Mechanisms of power in maritime spatial planning processes in Denmark

Paulina Ramirez-Monsalve, Jan van Tatenhove

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

1 Citationer (Scopus)


In the EU setting, Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is portrayed as providing a framework for arbitrating between competing human activities and managing their impact on the marine environment. However, a maritime spatial plan cannot be considered a neutral or objective instrument to decide about conflicting claims between different maritime sectors and activities. MSP is a complicated process –far from neutral. To secure a more democratic decision-making process and promote a fairer distribution of the benefits derived from marine resources, these conflicting claims, the unequal division of resources, as well as the inclusion and exclusion of actors in maritime planning processes need to be explored and understood. From a starting point of a desk study, we constructed a typology of power and applied this framework to the development of MSP in Denmark. Our analysis shows that the capacity that actors have to secure a permitted use of the Danish sea within the current (2016–2019) MSP process is influenced by structural, dispositional and relational powers: (1) a dominant discourse of “enhancing economic growth” (a form of structural power) that define which topics are legitimate, resulting in a (2) dominant positioning of the sectors mentioned in article 5 of the EU MSP Directive, such as energy, transport, fishing, aquaculture, and extraction of raw materials, over other sectors: tourism, recreational activities, and outdoor life (a form of dispositional power); (3) the setting of rules e.g., prioritizing the securing of investments for certain sectors with a 20–30 years horizons (a form of dispositional power) which would include or exclude actors from negotiations in the MSP process; (4) the availability of data (a form of relational power) which would allow to document the sectors’ interests at sea, i.e., outdoor life and recreational activities; (5) the ability to form coalitions (a form of relational power) aiming to strengthen the position of a particular group of stakeholders in the MSP process, i.e., East Jutland coastal municipalities. The study shows that it is crucial to understand the different forms of power and power dynamics in MSP, and understand that the process can create winners and losers.
TidsskriftOcean and Coastal Management
StatusUdgivet - 2020

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