Marine Spatial Planning for the 
Falkland Islands


Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) - What is it?

  • Land use planning – for the sea!
  • “A process to develop a strategic plan for regulating, managing and protecting the marine environment that addresses the multiple, cumulative and potentially conflicting uses of the sea and achieves ecological, economic and social objectives"

The marine environment is very important to the Falkland Islands and its inhabitants because the current main economic activities are marine-based (commercial fishing and tourism) and people are closely linked to it for cultural reasons. The economic activities entirely rely on a healthy marine environment where fish can reproduce and grow and where wildlife attracting the tourists can thrive. Therefore, there is an intimate connection between managing the marine environment and ensuring the Falklands’ economy is sustainable and people can enjoy their favourite coastal places, in the long-term future.

The image below represents these connections in the Falklands:

Diagram showing links between marine-based economic activities links between marine-based economic activities in the Falklands
The Falkland Islands currently have no marine spatial planning in place at the exception of temporary fishing closure areas. With an increasing level of human activities in the ocean around the Falkland Islands, in particular for oil exploration, but also for shipping traffic, commercial fishing, aquaculture, and tourism, the need to identify areas sensitive to risks and to manage sustainably the marine environment has been identified as a priority for the Falkland Islands Government. The Islands Plan 2014-18 states as an action to “Implement appropriate […] marine spatial planning frameworks to ensure the preservation and management of […] marine environments of the Falkland Islands”.

The MSP Phase 1 “Foundation”: The Darwin Plus project (July 2014-July 2016)

The aim of the MSP project is to initiate the process of MSP by preparing data, tools and analyses, and by formulating a framework for MSP in the Falkland Islands. The results will inform the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) and its stakeholders on best practice and make recommendations on priorities for management and for developing a sustainable MSP process for the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ, locally known as ‘Conservation Zone’) of the Falkland Islands.

The project is built around 3 major workshops as per the project mind map below:

Project Manager

Dr Amélie Augé 

Amélie is a spatial ecologist who combines her original vocation in animal behaviour and conservation with her interests in spatio-temporal data. With a primary coastal and marine focus, she has applied a combination of field studies, GIS analyses and mapping, multi-disciplinary approaches and stakeholder engagement towards current management needs, highlighting the need for planning for future changes to prevent issues. She gained her PhD in Zoology in 2011 at the University of Otago. Her extensive fieldwork experience includes 5 summers in sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands working for the New Zealand Department of Conservation, and stints around New Zealand and Australia, in Canada, Madagascar and Peru working on sea lions, whales, penguins, skinks, dolphins, etc., and using a variety of methods such as satellite-tracking, diet sampling, boat-based photo-ID, or GPS and habitat mapping. After a 2-year postdoc at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Australia), where she worked with world experts in conservation planning for the Great Barrier Reef and its coastal zone and gained skills in that field (including stakeholder engagement expert elicitation and workshop facilitation). 

Research Assistants

Veronica Frans & Denise Herrera

The individual objectives of the 2-year MSP project are to:

  • Gather and create spatial data to map how humans and wildlife use the marine environment
  • Create a GIS database for the data
  • Analyse spatial data to detect areas of overlaps and potentially at risk of conflicts between activities or between activities and the environment
  • Analyse specifically seabirds and seals’ tracking data and sightings to identify key areas for these groups
  • Produce an MSP framework for FIG presented in a ‘Policy paper’ that will recommend best practice to implement MSP in the Falkland Islands

MSP GIS Database

A major prerequisite to enable coordinated and sustainable management of the marine environment, and to implement MSP, is understanding the spatial distribution of environmental, social and economic values, and of human activities, current and also future. The MSP team has been gathering, producing, transforming and classifying spatial data to create an MSP GIS database. This consists of a metadata catalogue describing the data and how it can be used for MSP, and of datasets, in the form of rasters and shapefiles (all in WGS84 UTM21S projected coordinate system). The datasets are classified as follow:

  • Anthropogenic activity data (ANT)
  • Management data (MGT)
  • Environmental data (ENV)
  • Biological data (BIO)
  • Social data (SOC)
  • Geographic data (GEO)
  • Marine Spatial Planning data (MSP) – these will be created when MSP is implemented defining the zones

The metadata for the MSP GIS database can be downloaded as a snapshot below:
Metadata MSP GIS DATA 30-5-16 

MSP GIS project illustration
The metadata for all data and copies of all data (unless data is already on another established database or not released by the owners) were entered in the IMS-GIS Centre. The metadata can be accessed by searching “Marine Spatial Planning” HERE, and instructions on how to request or find the data are on the same page. Some datasets may not show up if they are not strictly MSP-related but can be search by keywords (e.g. the shapefile of the Falkland coastlines can be search for with these terms instead of MSP).

Links of interest about MSP

The Shetland Islands have been developing a Marine Spatial Plan since 2004. This is a great example to check out – Shetland Islands marine spatial planning:

Marine Scotland, the governmental unit in charge of coordinated sustainable management of Scottish waters:

UNESCO Marine Spatial Planning Initiative:

European Commission Maritime Affairs – MSP webpage:

UK Government – Marine planning factsheets:


The project ‘Marine Spatial Planning for the Falkland Islands’ was funded by Darwin Plus, in collaboration with the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) Environmental Studies Budget. This was a two-year project from July 2014 to June 2016. All the outputs from this project are available in the sections of this webpage.

This project has now ended

PO Box 609, Stanley Cottage North
Ross Road, Falkland Islands
Stanley, FIQQ 1ZZ
Falkland Islands: +500 27374
UK Office: +44 (0)20 3745 1731
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