Guiding Principles

Photo by Manu San Félix/National Geographic, shot during the Pristine Seas expedition to Seychelles, March 2015.

Photo by Manu San Félix/National Geographic, shot during the Pristine Seas expedition to Seychelles, March 2015.

The guiding principles of the MSP Initiative lay the foundation of the MSP process and determine the basic or essential qualities of the process and its outputs. The Seychelles MSP Initiative developed ‘Guiding Principles’ during stakeholder consultations in 2014-2015.


  • Laws, Regulations, Acts, Legal Agreements, National Policy, Authorised Management Plans
  • Strategies, Goals, Action Plans
  • Integration; Co-management
  • Transparency; Inclusivity; Participation
  • Environmental Stewardship; Equity; Sustainable Development

Approach and Practicality:

  • Global Best Practices
  • Ecosystem-Based Management Approach; Precautionary Principle
  • Balance ecological, economic, social, cultural objectives
  • Feasible; Practical; Implementable; Financially sustainable; Adaptable; Dynamic
  • Relevant Spatial and Temporal Scales

The Seychelles MSP Initiative principles were adapted from the 2009 IOC-UNESCO Step-by-step marine planning guide (Ehler and Douvere 2009).

Marine Spatial Planning Initiative Principles
Integrated Address the interrelationship among issues and sectors and between nature and development; integration can help create complementary and mutually reinforcing decisions and actions.
Ecosystem-based Safeguard ecosystem processes, resilience, and connectedness, recognizing that that ecosystems are dynamic, changing and sometimes poorly understood (therefore requiring precautionary decision-making).
Public Trust Marine resources are part of the public domain, not owned exclusively or benefited by any one group; decisions should be made in the interest of the whole community and not any one group or private interest.
Sustainability Decision making should take into account environmental, economic, social and cultural values in meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Transparency The processes used to make decisions should be easily understood by the public, allow citizens to see how decisions are made, how resources have been allocated, and how decisions have been reached that affect their lives.
Participatory Communities, persons, and interests affected by marine resource or activity management should have an opportunity to participate in the formulation of ocean management decisions.
Precautionary Article 15 of the Rio Declaration on Sustainable Development states that: “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation”.
Adaptive MSP is a continuing, iterative process that learns and adapts over time.

Ehler, Charles, and Fanny Douvere. Marine Spatial Planning: a step-by-step approach toward ecosystem-based management. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and Man and the Biosphere Programme. IOC Manual and Guides No. 53, ICAM Dossier No. 6. Paris: UNESCO. 2009.

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