From a public law and policy perspective, the TransMasp (Transboundary Maritime Spatial Planning) project will explore the impact of legal and natural boundaries in the implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning which is a tool to integrate sea use management. Despite of a strong request from International and European Union policy documents, transboundary aspects of Maritime Spatial Planning as well as its articulation with Land Spatial Planning are not yet scientifically handled. TransMasp will analyse a case study: the French-Belgian marine and coastal zone boundary (the Pas-de-Calais French region and the Belgian coastline). In this area, both countries share the same sandbanks, its rich biodiversity and substantial human activities (maritime transport, tourism, fisheries...). The case site is divided by the sea-land natural boundary and the French-Belgian legal boundary. Analysing it, TransMasp will investigate opportunities and constraints to develop a common Maritime Spatial Planning for a particular transboundary area. It will test the potential of Maritime Spatial Planning to ensure an effective ecosystem management across boundaries. Theoretically, this research work will further contribute to the understanding and development of the concept of Maritime Spatial Planning, its relation with Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Ecosystem Approach. It will combine those three theories in order to confront a fundamental question: how to keep sea use management coherent in a transboundary context?
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