Victoria’s marine environment is an active place and how we use it continues to grow and change. Human uses of ocean space need to be organised and balanced to maintain a healthy marine ecosystem that supports multiple uses. The impacts of climate change and population growth must also be considered.

Marine spatial planning helps marine industry, government, and the community better plan activities in the marine environment, now and into the future. It can also support sustainable growth of Victoria’s blue economy and climate change adaptation planning.

Marine Spatial Planning Framework

The Marine and Coastal Policy 2020 (PDF, 7.1 MB) includes a Marine Spatial Planning Framework (MSP Framework). The MSP Framework is required under the Marine and Coastal Act 2018.

The MSP Framework guides integrated planning and management of Victoria's marine environment. It also sets out Victoria’s approach to marine spatial planning.

The MSP Framework consists of two parts:

Part A provides guidance and policies for marine planning and management decisions in Victoria, whether undertaking marine spatial planning or not.

Part B outlines how to initiate, approve, and undertake marine spatial planning in Victoria.

Part B includes a 3-stage process for marine spatial planning:

Stage 1: determine marine planning areas and identify areas that may benefit from marine spatial planning

Stage 2: seek approval to undertake marine spatial planning using a mechanism in the Marine and Coastal Act 2018

Stage 3: undertake marine spatial planning.

The MSP Framework identifies the Minister responsible for the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 as the lead minister for marine spatial planning. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is therefore leading implementation of the MSP Framework, engaging with Traditional Owners, industry, marine users, and government agencies.

Victoria’s marine planning areas

The first stage in implementing Part B of the MSP Framework is to undertake a statewide ‘first-pass’. The ‘first-pass’ divides Victoria’s marine environment into marine planning areas for future marine spatial planning processes. It also identifies areas that could benefit from marine spatial planning.

Undertaking marine spatial planning

The MSP Framework states that approval to undertake marine spatial planning in a marine planning area is required from the lead minister for marine spatial planning, in consultation with other relevant portfolio Ministers.

Marine Spatial Planning Guidelines

The Marine Spatial Planning Guidelines (MSP Guidelines) provide detailed instructions and guidance on how to undertake a marine spatial planning process in Victoria.

If you would like more information, please contact the Marine Spatial Planning Team - marine.spatial.planning@delwp.vic.gov.au

Marine Spatial Planning
Q. What is marine spatial planning?

Marine spatial planning considers how uses and activities in the marine environment are spatially organised. It supports integrated management and provides an approach to manage conflicts through existing legislation, policies, and plans.

Undertaking marine spatial planning can have significant benefits. This includes identifying marine habitats that can be recovered or enhanced, supporting the growth of Victoria's blue economy, and supporting climate change adaptation responses across marine sectors. These benefits support long-term planning for existing marine uses (for example, fisheries, tourism, marine transport), emerging uses (for example, offshore wind and ocean energy), and the marine environment.

Q. When is marine spatial planning needed?

To date, most planning and management decisions in Victoria have focused on individual activities or uses (for example, fisheries, tourism, conservation), with responsibility shared between different government agencies and bodies. While this is still appropriate in some cases, marine spatial planning can have significant benefits where decision making is likely to be complex, challenging, or where managing individual activities and uses may be inadequate. As human uses and activities in the marine environment diversify and intensify, marine spatial planning can help to manage conflicts and identify compatibility of uses. This can be especially beneficial in environments with multiple conflicting uses, sensitive or significant habitats, or new and emerging industries.

Q. Who is responsible for marine spatial planning?

The Minister responsible for the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 is the lead minister 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 resulting marine plan.

Q. Where will marine spatial planning be undertaken? How will marine spatial planning be implemented?

Before a first marine spatial planning process can be undertaken, further investigations and agreement of the following are required:

  • Who might lead a marine spatial planning process?
  • What should the governance structure look like?
  • What is the mechanism for undertaking marine spatial planning (for example, an Environmental Management Plan or a Regional and Strategic Partnership)? Should the mechanism be kept flexible or is a fixed approach preferable?
  • How might a MSP process and the implementation of a resulting marine plan be funded?

These elements will be explored through implementation of the Marine and Coastal Strategy 2022 and testing of the MSP Guidelines.

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

The MSP Framework is part of the Marine and Coastal Policy 2020 and is required under the Marine and Coastal Act 2018. The MSP Framework provides 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.

Marine stakeholders helped to develop the framework through a co-learning and co-design process. Representatives across marine industries, peak bodies, government, non-government groups and marine research participated throughout the process.

Q. Why was the Marine Spatial Planning Framework developed?

The use of Victoria’s marine environment is growing and changing. Pressures on marine ecosystems are also increasing, including impacts from climate change and population growth. As a result, there is a need for more integrated and coordinated planning and management across marine sectors. To address this need, the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 requires the development of a statewide MSP Framework as part of the Marine and Coastal Policy.

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 sustainable and equitable use and development. It will also support the maintenance of a healthy marine environment that provides environmental, social, cultural, and economic benefits, now and into the future.

Q. Where does the Marine Spatial Planning Framework apply?

The MSP Framework applies to Victoria’s marine environment, which is defined in the Marine and Coastal Act 2018. It extends from the high-water mark out for 3 nautical miles, or 5.5 kilometres, to the boundary of Victoria’s state jurisdiction. This includes all bays, inlets, estuaries, and the Gippsland Lakes. The marine environment 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.

Given the dynamic and interconnected nature of marine and coastal environments, adjoining coastal land and marine waters are also considered when conducting a marine spatial planning process.

Victoria's Marine Environment

Q. Will marine spatial planning replace existing marine planning and management (for example, 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. This includes sectors such as marine transportation, energy generation, fisheries operations, and conservation. The MSP Framework does not replace, remove, or duplicate these existing arrangements or replace existing licensed or permitted rights.

Rather, it provides a structure for integrated management, and an approach to manage conflicts through existing legislation, policies and plans. As marine spatial planning is a participatory approach, stakeholders with existing use and access permits, licences or leases will be identified and engaged early in the process.

Q. What are the steps in the marine spatial planning process?

There are five key steps in a marine spatial planning process. These steps were established through the co-learning and co-design process that was undertaken to develop the MSP Framework and are based on internationally recognised best practice. The five key steps and the tasks associated with each step are outlined in the MSP Guidelines.

Picture1

Q. What are marine planning areas?

A marine planning area is the area to which a marine plan and its identified actions will apply.

The first stage in implementing the MSP Framework is the completion of a broad scale, ‘first-pass’ to determine marine planning areas and identify which areas could benefit from marine spatial planning in the future. The scope of this work is set out in the MSP Framework. The marine planning areas will inform the next stages of implementing marine spatial planning in Victoria.

In determining the boundaries and size of marine planning areas, the statewide ‘first pass’ considered a variety of factors as directed by the MSP Framework. This included Traditional Owners’ knowledge and cultural values, input from multi-sector stakeholders and environmental characteristics.

Q. What are the MSP Guidelines?

The MSP Guidelines provide instructions on how to undertake a marine spatial planning process in a marine planning area.

The steps in the MSP Guidelines build on the co-learning and co-design process that was undertaken to develop the MSP Framework and have been informed by internationally recognised best-practice. In developing the MSP Guidelines, DELWP have partnered with Traditional Owners, to ensure Traditional Owner knowledge and assertions of Sea Country are incorporated.

Q. What is a Marine Plan?

A marine plan is a key output of the marine spatial planning process. It is a comprehensive strategic document that provides information on existing arrangements, uses/activities, and areas of interest in a marine planning area. Once developed, the marine plan informs and guides planning and management decisions in the area to which the marine plan applies.

Marine plans guide the sharing of marine space by different marine industries, supporting management of cross-sector objectives and outlining priorities that consider individual marine sector policies, strategic plans, and broader environmental goals.

A marine plan brings together Traditional Owners, marine and coastal sectors (for example, fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, conservation, energy generation, marine transport), entities with planning or management responsibilities and stakeholders with interests in the marine planning area.

A marine plan must be developed in accordance with any relevant provisions of the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 and any legislation that applies to the marine environment within the marine planning area.

Q. When will the marine planning areas and MSP Guidelines be released?

It is expected that Victoria’s marine planning areas and MSP Guidelines will be released in mid-2022. DELWP will then continue to implement the MSP Framework through delivery of the Marine and Coastal Strategy and testing of the MSP Guidelines.

Q. How will marine spatial planning include Traditional Owners and Aboriginal communities?

Traditional Owners have an unbroken custodianship of the land and seas that extends back tens of thousands of years. Their knowledge, understanding, and relationships to Country are fundamental to the health of the environment and the success of any strategy to manage that environment. As such, the importance of Sea Country must be recognised and integrated into marine planning and management through a self-determined approach.

DELWP are partnering with Traditional Owners to implement the MSP Framework. In addition, when undertaking a marine spatial planning process, Traditional Owners must be supported to self-determine:

  • their roles in marine spatial planning
  • appropriate protocols and processes for Indigenous Data Sovereignty and how it is embedded in marine spatial planning
  • how cultural landscapes and values, and Traditional Owner rights and objectives for Country, are reflected in marine spatial planning and resulting marine plans.
Q. How can I get involved?

Victoria’s marine environment is used for a diversity of activities including fishing, boating, shipping, recreation, and tourism. Therefore, it is important that all these groups can input and shape 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 visit DELWP Marine and Coasts or contact the Marine Spatial Planning team at marine.spatial.planning@delwp.vic.gov.au.

Page last updated: 28/06/22