Planning process

Planning phases

The maritime spatial planning process was divided into five phases: the start-up phase, the definition and data collection phase, the planning phase, the approval phase and the reporting phase.

The planning methods were determined, and earlier information was collected to support maritime spatial planning when the maritime spatial planning process started after the implementation of the national legislation in 2016. The Maritime planning in Finland – current status and development needs report provided an overview of the planning situation in marine areas.  The Premises of marine spatial planning report examined the current use of marine areas, as well as future needs and the existing body of information about the marine environment, maritime industries and maritime spatial planning.  

During the definition and data collection phase, the situational picture was created to serve as a basis for maritime spatial planning. The ecological status of the marine environment was examined by the Status of Finland’s marine environment 2018 report, the Zonation analysis produced by the Finnish Environment Institute and the Finnish Inventory Programme for the Underwater Marine Environment (VELMU), and ecologically significant marine underwater areas (EMMA). The Special characteristics of the Gulf of Finland planning area report, the Special characteristics of the Archipelago Sea and Southern Bothnian Sea planning area report and the Special characteristics of the Northern Bothnian Sea, Quark and Bothnian Bay planning area report were prepared to provide an overview of the characteristics, ecological state, planning situation and maritime industries of the marine areas.  Blue economy profiles were created for the planning areas, and existing international, national and regional strategic goals for the blue economy were identified. The Situational picture of the blue economy 2018 report provided an overview of strategic future guidelines in various sectors in the Baltic Sea region, as well as regional strengths and development needs related to the blue economy.

The situational picture was supplemented by the following reports: Report on maritime cultural heritage, Finnish coastline – Built and unbuilt areas, Sustainable piling options for dredging masses and Maritime spatial plan zones, archipelago areas and YKR-data.

When the situational pictures had been created in the spring of 2018, the actual planning phase began with the Scenarios for maritime areas 2050 report, which assessed potential scenarios for blue economy sectors and their impacts on the status of the marine environment. As a result of the scenario review, three alternative scenarios where created for the Baltic Sea to serve as a basis for setting the target state, as well as preparedness plans to support sustainable growth in marine areas.

An electronic hearing on the situational picture and the scenarios was held between 10 April and 10 May 2019.


After the scenario review, the planning phase continued as vision and goal work in the autumn of 2019. During an interactive stakeholder cooperation period, a national sustainable use vision for 2050 was prepared for marine areas, as well as regional development goal overviews and sector-specific roadmaps for 2030. National and regional sector-specific thematic meetings were held to support interaction, with a total attendance of 120 people.

The preparation of the written and map sections of the maritime spatial plan began at the same time as the vision and goal work. The Maritime spatial plan impact assessment report and the Application of the ecosystem-based approach in the Finnish maritime spatial planning report were prepared during the draft phase of the maritime spatial plans.

An electronic hearing on the draft plans was held between 17 May and 18 June 2020. A total of 87 statements and 54 pieces of general feedback were received. Based on the feedback, the maritime spatial plans were prepared for decision-making in the autumn of 2020. The monitoring and evaluation model for maritime spatial planning was prepared at the same time. The regional assemblies of the coastal regional councils approved the maritime spatial plans in November–December 2020.

Cooperative process

The maritime spatial planning Coordination Group consists of the parties responsible for the preparation of the plan – that is, representatives of regional councils and the Ministry of the Environment. The coordination group is responsible for the preparation of the plans through cooperation, as well as coordination.

The planning process is based on collaboration— the following parties have participated: ministries; regional environmental authorities (ELY Centres); municipalities, towns and cities; national-level agencies, institutes and research centres; maritime and coastal industries; sector-specific interest groups, federations and associations; private expert organisations and research institutes; ports; museums; and universities and other higher education institutions.

The maritime spatial planning cooperation network has served as an information sharing channel. Anyone interested in maritime spatial planning can join the network at merialuesuunnittelu.fi. At the time of completion of the plan, the network had 380 members, who were informed by means of regular newsletters.

During the start-up, data collection and planning phases of maritime spatial planning, stakeholders discussed maritime spatial planning themes and the content and presentation of the plan, as well as the actual planning process, among other aspects. This created a common understanding of how to plan and what the plan must include. In addition, based on workshops, an interaction plan was prepared to provide an overview of maritime spatial planning and the influencing opportunities of stakeholders and citizens.

The future scenarios, visions, target states and roadmaps were prepared in cooperation with stakeholders. During the scenario phase, the cooperation network met at national and regional workshops. In the autumn of 2019, a sustainable use Vision 2050 was prepared for marine areas, as well as regional target states and sector-specific roadmaps. Thematic regional and national discussions were also held with 120 participants. Stakeholders were also able to participate in the scenario and vision work on a digital platform and had an opportunity to present their opinions on the draft plans. A hearing on the situational picture and scenario work was organised in the spring of 2019, and a hearing on the vision work, draft plan and impact assessment was held in the spring of 2020.

During the maritime spatial planning process, the Ministry of the Environment and the Coordination Group organised several national briefing events and workshops between 2016 and 2020. Regional Councils organised dozens of regional workshops and regularly informed regional council boards and assemblies about the progress of maritime spatial planning.

Information about the planning phases and the completion of the planning was provided on the merialuesuunnittelu.fi website and via social media channels. The planning material was available on the merialuesuunnittelu.fi website, and the approved plan was available in dated format on the www.merialuesuunnitelma.fi website. Information about maritime spatial planning was also published on the websites of regional councils and the Ministry of the Environment.

There was close cooperation with the other Baltic Sea countries during the planning process to coordinate maritime spatial plans. Separate consultation meetings were held twice during the planning period, in 2018 and 2020. The various projects in which the regional councils have participated have also involved cooperation. Information about maritime spatial planning in Finland has been presented at several international events, and an international hearing on the draft plans was held during the spring of 2020.