Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland

Marine Planning & Governance Forum

Marine Planning & Governance Forum

The MASTS Marine Planning & Governance Forum was established in January 2013, to support dialogue across the marine planning community and to address the complex and wide-ranging research needed to support marine planning activities in Scotland.

In 2018, Tim & Rachel took over from Lucy as co-convenors of the Forum. Their vision for the forum is that we collaboratively develop two goals. Firstly we will encourage research for planning and management- which will inform and provide an evidence base for various applied assessments and real-world questions. For MPG this will involve engaging those in other MASTS fora to support wider understanding of marine planning, management and regulatory processes. It will also involve engaging professional practitioners to understand their needs and requirements and highlight novel opportunities provided by science. Secondly we will foster research about marine planning and governance. This will draw together social scientists and interdisciplinary researchers across Scotland, especially those who evaluate and analyse marine planning, but also and other related topics, including but not limited to: the ecosystem approach, ecosystem services framework, good governance, development in maritime sectors and blue growth. There is a need to explore how MPG can best support this. This vision is premised upon on convictions about: the number of focussed but tractable and timely goals the Forum can achieve in the next two years; the current and potential make-up of the fora (which spans social scientists, natural scientists and those in government and professional practice at both national and regional scales); and convictions about the nature of good scholarship. We invite others to get involved in forming the vision, and recognise that others in the forum might have broader goals and we are keen to facilitate these too.

In Scotland, the National Marine Plan was published in March 2015, and work is now underway to develop Regional Marine Plans across the 11 Scottish Marine Regions in territorial waters. The MASTS Marine Planning & Governance Forum leads dialogue between the Government, marine planners, local authorities, stakeholders and the scientific community, to identify and address the knowledge gaps in implementing effective marine planning.

Key activities include identification of strategic research needs for marine planning, development of research opportunities from Masters projects to long-term international funding calls, a web-based platform to understand and connect research capacity across MASTS, etc. With close involvement of Marine Scotland and current / future marine planners, the Forum aims to bring together the academic community to strategically develop applied and interdisciplinary research essential to enable evidence-based governance for sustainable management of our seas

Forum Co-Convenors: Rachel Shucksmith (UHI) & Sinead Sheridan (NatureScot)

Steering Group: Tim Stojanovic (University of St Andrews); Meriwether Wilson (Edinburgh University), Lauren McWhinnie and Daniela Diz  (Heriot Watt University); Vincent Onyango (Dundee University), Chris Cutts (Clyde Forum), Tavis Potts, Kate Gormley and Neda Trifanova (Aberdeen University) and Reme Diaz (Marine Scotland)

Rachel Shucksmith is a marine spatial planning practitioner based in Shetland. Rachel has over 15 years of applied marine research and commercial experience. She holds a BSc in Marine Biology and an MSc in Environmental Decision Making. As a practitioner she has first-hand experience of the challenges in delivering effective marine management. Rachel is interested the process of effective engagement in marine and fisheries management, and the science and knowledge required to underpin decision making. She has been involved in a number of national and international projects to share experiences of marine spatial planning, ranging from developing assessment processes for identifying cultural ecosystem services, to the initial development of marine spatial planning projects in new regions.

Sinead Sheridan is a marine planning expert at NatureScot. Previously, Sinead worked for the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership.


Stojanovic, T.A. Withouck, I. (2021) Key Issues in Marine Governance. Report of the MASTS Marine Planning and Governance workshop, 27-28 September 2021, Crieff. MASTS.

Read the 2021 report “Passport to the oceans of the future: delivering marine energy with science linked to policy

Read the report “Using marine planning to balance competing demands on the marine environment: International comparisons” written by Shucksmith, R., Stojanovic, T., Slater A.M., Withouck, I., Allan, K for the  ECCLR committee (2021)

Download the report from the 2019 MPG Forum workshop – “Science of and for marine planning

Download the report from the Clyde Schools Engagement Project

Download the report from a MASTS Marine Planning and Governance Forum Workshop to provide a sense-check of the draft Clyde & Shetland Regional Assessments, March 2017.

Download the final report from the MASTS Marine Planning and Governance Forum Workshop at the Annual Science Meeting in Glasgow, 21st October 2016 (“Where are we? Exploring the National Marine Plan Review Process in Scotland”) 

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