Coastal and Marine Management– navigating islands of data  

Helen Murray-O'Connor, Andrew Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The disciplines of Coastal Management and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) are predominantly focussed on creating a regulatory and legislative framework within which national and regional planning policies, climate mitigation measures and environmental monitoring requirements can be effectively implemented. They are recognised globally as evidence-based processes which, by inference, necessitate the discoverability, accessibility and integration of appropriate ‘trusted’ coastal and marine data together with contiguous terrestrial datasets. In this regard there are many significant challenges at national and local levels. Indeed, while a wealth of authoritative open data may be available, the data for any management requirement can be dispersed across a wide range of national online portals, statistical bodies and research hubs, ‘scientific’ platforms and some is even held by private companies. This is certainly the case in the Irish context, where MSP is only in its infancy, and consequently, the breadth of MSP foundational thematic marine data requirements required to comply with this Directive has yet to be fully realised by end-users/stakeholders and data providers alike. This study aims to navigate this issue by leveraging the data annexes within the European Community’s Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) Directive (2007/2/EC), (EC, 2007) and aligning these annexes with the data requirements of the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Directive (2014/89/EU). Subsequently, this study identifies and categorises (into sectoral/thematic clusters) an extensive inventory of coastal and MSP thematic data features, and scopes out appropriate and authoritative online sources (where available) for each. Through an in-depth interrogation of a diverse range of both national and EU sectoral platforms or portals, (much of the data was originally captured for a diverse range of applications and management processes), and in view of INSPIRE’s well established (legally binding) data specifications, standards and guidance (developed towards supporting EU environmental policies), a methodology is presented to accelerate coastal and marine data discovery, and to collate or ‘group’ these authoritative data sources under broad but succinct MSP thematic headings. The resulting coastal and marine data catalogue is the first step in the creation of an easy data reference and retrieval tool for Irish coastal and marine practitioners, and presents a model for other nations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Policy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Jun 2024


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