Victoria’s marine environment is an active place and how we use it continues to grow and change. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a practical way to organise marine space, and the interactions among human uses and between these uses and the marine environment.

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) provides a process for industry, government, and the community to work together to better plan for current and future uses of the marine environment, while also maintaining healthy marine ecosystems. It can also be used to support sustainable growth of Victoria’s blue economy and climate adaptation planning.

Marine Spatial Planning Framework

The Marine and Coastal Policy 2020 includes a Marine Spatial Planning Framework (MSP Framework) that provides overarching guidance and a process for achieving integrated and coordinated planning and management of the marine environment. The MSP Framework sets out Victoria’s approach to MSP and consists of two parts that complement the other content of the Marine and Coastal Policy 2020:

  • Part A provides guidance and policies for marine planning and management decisions in Victoria.
  • Part B outlines the process for initiating, approving, and undertaking marine spatial planning in Victoria.

The three-step process in Part B details how MSP is initiated, approved, and undertaken:

  • Step 1: determine marine planning areas and identify priorities for MSP
  • Step 2: seek approval to undertake MSP using a mechanism in the Marine and Coastal Act 2018
  • Step 3: undertake MSP

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is leading implementation of the MSP Framework, engaging with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal communities, industry, the wider community, and government agencies during the process.

Statewide Assessment

A Statewide Assessment will be used to determine marine planning areas and priorities for undertaking MSP across Victoria (implementing Step 1 of the above process). It will examine the spatial distribution of activities and uses, associated values, and current or future threats, and will build on the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council’s (VEAC) 2019 Assessment of the Values of Victoria’s Marine Environment.

Marine Spatial Planning Guidelines

Steps 2 and 3 will be supported by the development of guidelines (MSP Guidelines) that will provide instructions on how to undertake MSP in a planning area. These instructions will further detail the steps outlined in the MSP Framework.

Following completion of the Statewide Assessment and MSP Guidelines, DELWP will then continue to implement the MSP Framework by scoping and initiating the first MSP process in a priority area identified through the Statewide Assessment.

If you would like to know more please email marine.spatial.planning@delwp.vic.gov.au

Marine Spatial Planning
Q. What is marine spatial planning?

Marine spatial planning is a practical way to organise marine space, and the interactions among human uses and between uses and the marine environment.

It provides a process for assessing where activities and uses may be compatible or incompatible, and where activities and uses (either individually or cumulatively) conflict. Undertaking a marine spatial planning process can have significant benefits including proactively identifying and reducing conflicts between uses, and between uses and natural values. This can help to help protect economic, social, cultural, and environmental values linked to the marine environment.

It can also be used to support sustainable growth of Victoria’s blue economy and climate adaptation planning.

Q. When is marine spatial planning needed?

To date, most planning and management decisions in Victoria have focused on individual activities or uses, with responsibility shared between different government agencies and bodies. While this is still appropriate in some cases, marine spatial planning can have significant benefits in areas where decision making is likely to be complex, challenging, or where managing individual activities and uses may be inadequate.

Q. Who is responsible for marine spatial planning?

The Minister responsible for the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 is designated as the lead Minister responsible for marine spatial planning in Victoria. The lead Minister will seek approval from all ministers with interests in a marine planning area before authorising a marine spatial planning process, and before approving any proposed marine plan.

Q. How will marine spatial planning be implemented?

The location and need for undertaking marine spatial planning will be determined through a coordinated, statewide approach (including a Statewide Assessment), directed by the lead Minister. This approach will consider and identify the areas that should be prioritised for undertaking marine spatial planning.

Marine spatial planning will then be implemented in marine planning areas using the three-step process detailed in the MSP Framework and supported by the MSP Guidelines.

A first marine spatial planning process will be scoped in 2021-2022, in a priority area identified through the Statewide Assessment.

Marine Spatial Planning Framework
Q. What is the Marine Spatial Planning Framework?

The MSP Framework is part of the Marine and Coastal Policy 2020. The framework provides overarching guidance and a process for achieving integrated and coordinated planning and management of the marine environment. It sets out Victoria’s approach to marine spatial planning.

Q. Why was the Marine Spatial Planning Framework developed?

The MSP Framework is required under the Marine and Coastal Act 2018.

As use of Victoria’s marine environment grows and changes and with increasing pressures on marine ecosystems, including impacts from climate change and population growth, a framework to achieve more integrated and coordinated planning and management across marine sectors was required.

The MSP Framework provides guidance and a process to consider all activities and uses of the marine environment in an integrated way. Application of the framework will support ecologically sustainable and equitable use and development. It will also help to support a healthy marine environment that provides environmental, social, cultural, and economic benefits.

Q. Where does the Marine Spatial Planning Framework apply?

Victoria’s marine environment, which is defined in the Marine and Coastal Act 2018, extends from the high-water mark out for 3 nautical miles, or 5.5 kilometres, to the boundary of Victoria’s state jurisdiction and includes all bays, inlets, estuaries and the Gippsland Lakes. It also extends to a depth of 200 metres below the surface of the seabed, and includes all the animal, plants and other biodiversity associated with the land and water.

Victoria's Marine Environment

Q. How is the Marine Spatial Planning Framework structured?

The MSP Framework consists of two parts that complement the other content of the Marine and Coastal Policy 2020:

  • Part A provides guidance and policies for marine planning and management decisions in Victoria.
  • Part B outlines the process for marine spatial planning in Victoria.
Q. Will marine spatial planning replace existing marine planning and management (e.g. fishing, shipping)?

In Victoria, a range of existing legislation, policies and plans already provide direction for planning, management and decision making in the marine environment (including for sectors such as transportation, oil and gas development, fisheries, and conservation).

The MSP Framework does not replace, remove, or duplicate the requirements of any existing legislation.

Q. What are the steps to undertake marine spatial planning?

To commence implementation of the MSP Framework, a Statewide Assessment is being completed to identify marine planning areas across Victoria. The assessment will also identify which of these areas would benefit from undertaking a more detailed marine spatial planning process. This will assist in prioritising the implementation of marine spatial planning.

Alongside the Statewide Assessment, a set of marine spatial planning guidelines (MSP Guidelines) will be developed that will provide instructions on how to undertake a marine spatial planning process in a planning area. These instructions will further detail the steps outlined in the MSP Framework.

It is anticipated that the final assessment and guidelines will be released in late-2021.

Q. What is the Statewide Assessment?

The Statewide Assessment will help to build a clear understanding of what, and where, activities and uses are occurring in Victoria’s marine environment and how this may change in the future. The MSP Framework provides guidance on how marine planning areas will be determined.

The Statewide Assessment will build on the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council’s (VEAC) 2019 Assessment of the Values of Victoria’s Marine Environment. Using this and other information (including the location of marine habitats and species, different values, and threats to these values) marine planning areas will be defined and priority areas for undertaking marine spatial planning will be identified.

Q. What are the MSP Guidelines?

The MSP Guidelines will provide instructions on how to undertake an MSP process in a planning area identified through the Statewide Assessment. The MSP Guidelines will further detail the steps outlined in the MSP Framework.

Q. What is a Marine Plan?

A marine plan is a key output of a marine spatial planning process. It is a strategic document that provides the structure and direction for management decisions in the area to which the plan applies. A marine plan must be developed in accordance with the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 (including the MSP Framework and MSP Guidelines) and any other legislation that applies to the planning area.

A marine plan describes the goals and objectives for the planning area and outlines when, where, and how these will be met. A draft marine plan must be released for public comment before the completion of a final plan. Once approved, the marine plan will guide planning, management and decision making in the marine environment to which the plan applies.

Q. When will the Statewide Assessment and Guidelines be released?

A preliminary Statewide Assessment is anticipated to be released by mid-2021. The Statewide Assessment will then be refined with the final version proposed for release in late-2021.

Development of the MSP Guidelines will also occur during 2021, with draft guidelines released for targeted consultation in mid-2021. Following the consultation process, the MSP Guidelines will be finalised and released in late-2021.

DELWP will then continue to implement the MSP Framework by scoping and initiating the first marine spatial planning process in a priority area identified through the Statewide Assessment.

Q. How will the process include Traditional Owners and Aboriginal communities?

The importance of Sea Country should be recognised and integrated into marine planning and management through self-determination and two-way learning. DELWP will ask Traditional Owners and Aboriginal communities how they want to be involved and how their knowledge, values, rights, responsibilities, and objectives for Sea Country should be recognised and reflected in marine planning and management.

Q. How can I get involved?

Victoria’s marine waters are used for all types of activities such as fishing, boating, shipping, recreation, and tourism. Therefore, it is important that all these groups can input into how the marine environment is managed.

Marine spatial planning will involve a range of government and non-government groups that have an interest, connection, existing rights, or responsibilities related to a marine planning area.

For more information on opportunities to be involved, please contact the Marine Spatial Planning team at marine.spatial.planning@delwp.vic.gov.au

Page last updated: 14/05/21