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SIMAtlantic: start of a new European project on Maritime Spatial Planning in the “wide” EU -Atlantic area

SIMAtlantic project started on 1st of July 2019. It seeks to support the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (Directive 2014/89/EU) implementation in the Member States and to strengthen the links between those working on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in five Atlantic European Member States: France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland and England).

The project will last 2 years. The consortium of partners representing academia, scientific public bodies and marine planning authorities will focus on concrete actions and cross-cutting themes of relevance for national MSP authorities.

The Maritime Spatial Planning Directive is a European framework developed as a tool to answer to the challenges of the increasing uses of the sea. Traditional sectors such as fishing and shipping are now competing with new uses such as marine renewable energies and marine protection areas. This increasing human activity leads to conflicts between uses and pressures on the environment. The sectoral management of marine space is no longer possible in this new context that requires coherent actions across marine regions. Maritime Spatial Planning is a holistic approach to planning when and where human uses take place at sea, in order to ensure these are as efficient, safe and sustainable as possible. This process takes into account all maritime activities and their environmental impacts as well as cross-sectoral interactions and issues of a transnational nature. The Member States are requested to prepare marine plans following this approach, to be submitted to the European Commission in March 2021. They have to review their plans at least every ten years.

To support them in this task, and to encourage transnational cooperation, the Direction General Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission (EU/DG Mare) co-funds through the European Maritime and Fisheries program (EMFF) some cross-border projects on MSP, involving countries sharing a European sea basin.

For France, Shom, Cerema and AFB are participating as partners in SIMAtlantic to support the Sea Basin Strategic Documents (the French marine plans) preparation.

The cooperation among Member States aims to take into account the potential impacts of the national marine plans on the uses and activities and on the environment beyond their limits of sovereignty and jurisdiction. It is facing the challenges of sharing spatial data in a meaningful manner and in order to produce common maps.


Lack of shared spatial datasets, heterogeneity in their geometry, in their symbology, in their definition, absence of metadata record, of identified baseline data producer, of interoperability of the harvesting systems are examples of the barriers met when tackling with the challenges of improving the capacity to produce common maps about MSP issues, using data sources of the neighbouring countries.


In SIMAtlantic project, Shom will focus its activities on exploring and demonstrating the cross-border MSP data sharing requirements of the MSP Directive implementation in the Atlantic, through INSPIRE web services (WFS, WMS, …).


A marine geoportal which Spatial Data Infrastructure was set up in previous MSP cross-border projects will be used. The data gathering is based on harvesting process to limit the management and monitoring  and the duplication of the efforts. They remain the responsibility of the data producers and initial distributors. In addition, this approach guarantees that the data user access to the most up-to-date dataset. This is a quality criteria related to the use of the best available data.


This work will pursue and complete the overview on available spatial data for MSP established in previous projects SIMCelt, SIMWESTMED, SIMNORAT and SEANSE, for all the French sea basins, and in cooperation with all the neighbouring countries of the mainland of France.



Shom is participating to EU/DG Mare cross border projects on maritime spatial planning since France is concerned in 2016

The 1st round of 4 cross-border projects covers the whole French waters. It has led to develop cross-border knowledge sharing on the MSP Directive requirements, to identify transboundary issues, and to build capacities on MSP implementation.








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