Multi-use of oceans | Marine@Ugent

Multi-use of oceans

An ever-increasing variety of activities is our oceans: renewable energy production, aquaculture and biotechnology, shipping, etc. The more users compete for a share of ocean space, the scarcer and more valuable this space becomes. More than ever, systematic planning and coordinating of activities is vital. Ocean space, being a valuable public good, implies a balance between different interests and a good environment is paramount. Ghent University has the expertise to tackle this complex problem by stimulating multifunctional use in a sustainable manner.

An ever increasing variety of commercial activities are hosted nowadays by the European sea basins: oil and gas extraction, renewable energy production, pipelines, cables for telecommunications and electricity; shipping; cruise industry; fishery; aquaculture and blue biotechnology; sand and mineral extraction; coastal and maritime tourism. On top of that, the seas host a number of important non-commercial activities, such as marine defence, coastguard and include areas designated for the protection of marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

The more users compete for a share of ocean space, the scarcer and more valuable this space becomes. Since sea space cannot be multiplied, its use must be planned for in a systematic and coordinated way, not only accounting for existing uses, but also anticipating future needs. This means that co-uses, synergies and multiple spatial uses should be promoted as much as possible. To ensure a sustainable development of future activities, it will be important to understand the effects of  human activities and their impact on local and global scale. Anticipating consequences of human activities at sea allows to develop adaptation and mitigation measures which address topics high on the EU agenda, e.g. climate change, food and energy security and human health.


We provide knowledge and expertise on topics like:

  • Marine resource and environmental management
  • Ecosystem assessment
  • Life-cycle analyses
  • Risk and impact studies
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning
  • Marine Spatial Planning
  • Maritime Law
  • Law of the Sea and Protection of Oceans
  • Marine Policy and Governance
  • Environmental Law
  • Stakeholder participation and consultation 


Picture: Marine Spatial Plan of the Belgian Continental Flat