About the project

SIMAtlantic aims to support the establishment and implementation of maritime spatial planning (MSP) in five European Atlantic countries: France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. It is a two-year project co-funded by the European Union and implemented by partners representing academic institutions, marine planning authorities and scientific public bodies, who will work together to share knowledge and ultimately build long-lasting cooperation in MSP.

The project builds on previous MSP partnerships and projects including TPEA, SIMCelt, SIMNORAT, SIMWESTMED and SEANSE.

Click here to see a map of the project area.


Maritime spatial planning is a policy tool enabling public authorities and other stakeholders to apply a coordinated, integrated and cross-border approach to planning and managing the demand for maritime space for different purposes. It balances economic, social and environmental aspects to promote the coexistence of activities and support sustainable development.

Maritime spatial planning in the EU

In July 2014, the European Parliament and Council adopted the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (2014/89/EU), requiring the creation of national maritime plans for each coastal Member State by 2021. Using an ecosystem-based approach, the MSP Directive aims to mitigate the collective pressure of human activities while promoting the holistic management of marine resources.

Our approach

The project runs from 2019 to 2021, during which time project partners will complete a series of work packages including case studies and cross-cutting themes in order to fulfil the project objectives, which are to:

  • Assist authorities in managing marine activities in cross-border areas
  • Communicate the key steps in MSP to a range of stakeholders
  • Explore how to work together on other shared objectives such as Strategic Environmental Assessment
  • Develop knowledge and practice on cross-border Strategic Environmental Assessment and MSP
  • Review and identify the best available data to support analysis of land-sea interactions
  • Present a tested methodology for approaching land-sea interactions in MSP
  • Facilitate MSP cooperation across the European Atlantic
  • Develop a catalogue of relevant data and documents
  • Produce an ‘Atlantic Vision’ roadmap for MSP in the European Atlantic

Theme 1:

Governance, focusing on the interaction of MSP with other legal requirements

Theme 2:

Cumulative effects within cross-border Strategic Environmental Assessment

Theme 3:

Data use and sharing, establishing a data and information catalogue

Theme 4:

Land-sea interactions in the context of MSP, exploring innovations in relation to the management of opportunities and risks

Case study:

Cross-border management guidance for Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough, two areas at the borders between Ireland and the UK

Case study:

A cross-border cumulative effects assessment for the north-western Iberian Peninsula in Portugal and Spain

Case study:

A web portal for MSP-related data and information covering the Marine Protected Area of the Gironde Estuary and Pertuis Sea in France

Case study:

A study of land-sea interactions in the Irish Sea

Expected impacts

The project will produce methodologies, practical guidance documents, communication tools and a catalogue of relevant information to assist the work of MSP authorities. The work will culminate in an ‘Atlantic Vision’ – a roadmap for MSP in the European Atlantic marine region. Outputs will be available via the Resources page.

The SIMAtlantic project is designed to meet the current needs of MSP authorities in the European Atlantic region, while implementing actions that provide outputs of value, which transcend the duration of the project.

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