A Few Key Terms

Adaptive Management: The incorporation of a formal learning process into management actions of a plan. Specifically, the integration of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation to provide a framework to test assumptions systematically, promote learning, and provide timely information for management decisions.

Baseline: The situation before a marine spatial management plan is implemented; it is the starting point for performance monitoring and evaluation.

Evaluation: A periodic management activity that assesses achievement against some predetermined criteria, usually a set of standards or management goals and objectives.

Goal: A goal is a statement of general direction or intent. Goals are high-level statements of the desired outcomes to be achieved. This guide makes a clear distinction between general goals and specific objectives.

Indicator: An indicator is a measure, either quantitative or qualitative, of how close you are to achieving what you set out to achieve, i.e., your objectives or outcomes.

Inputs: In the context of evaluating marine spatial plans, the resources needed to carry out MSP and management activities, the extent to which they are available, and whether they are being used in the best way.

Management: Directing and controlling resources for the purpose of accomplishing specified goals and objectives. Management encompasses the allocation of human resources, financial resources, technological resources, and natural resources. It is a process made up of a set of functions or activities, including research, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and others, all of which must be carried out to achieve the specified goal(s) and objectives.

Management action or measure: A specific action taken to achieve a management objective; management actions should also identify the incentives (regulatory, economic, educational) that will be used to implement the management action and the institution or institutional arrangement that has the authority to implement the management action.

Marine spatial planning (MSP): A public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, social, and economic objectives that are usually specified through a political process.

Objective: A specific statement of desired outcomes that represent the achievement of a goal. Objectives should be SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant or realistic, and time-bound.

Outcomes: In the context of MSP and management, the achievement of the goals and objectives of the MSP process and the spatial management plan, e.g., sustainable fishing, safe navigation, and the resolution of conflicts among users and between users and nature.

Outputs: In the context of MSP and management, the products and services delivered by the MSP process, e.g., the establishment of a transparent and participatory MSP process, the number of public meetings held, an integrated database for the marine region, a desired vision for the marine region, the establishment of a system of marine protected areas, a streamlined permitting system, and the identification of data gaps and research needs. Outputs should be assessed relative to the level of inputs allocated to the MSP process.

Performance evaluation: An assessment that examines the extent to which a marine spatial plan is working as intended by assessing the outcomes of management actions. A performance evaluation helps MSP managers identify what changes are needed in planning and implementation to improve performance of the plan and its management actions.

Performance monitoring: The ongoing monitoring and reporting of program accomplishments, particularly progress toward pre-established goals and objectives. Program measures or indicators may address the type or level of program activities conducted (process), the direct products and services delivered by a program (outputs), and/or the results of those products and services (outcomes).

Process: In the context of evaluating marine spatial plans, the way in which MSP and management is carried out, e.g., have good management practices been applied? Are stakeholders happy with their involvement in the MSP process?

State-of-the-system monitoring: State-of-the-system monitoring focuses on assessing long-term trends, for example, the status of biodiversity in a marine area, the quality of water, or the overall health of a particular ecosystem.

Target: An interim point on the way to an outcome and eventually to a long-term management goal. Targets are based on known resources plus a reasonable projection of the resource base over a fixed period of time.

The Relationships among Elements of a Marine Spatial Plan


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