New Marine Spatial Planning Masters to Launch Fall 2016
Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A new Master of Marine Studies in Marine Spatial Planning and Management is about to launch at the Fisheries and Marine Institute. As the first graduate level program of its kind in Canada, the new program will provide graduates the opportunity to influence, lead and provide decision making support for the management and planning of increasingly busy coastal and ocean spaces.

“Marine spatial planning is an emerging and important field that is gaining prominence as global demands on our coastal spaces and oceans increase,” said Carey Bonnell, head of the Marine Institute’s School of Fisheries. “We want to position our graduates to apply technology-supported knowledge and expertise and provide the best advice to sustain and use our marine resources.”

The 30 credit hour program will be offered with a blended delivery approach, primarily online courses, one core on campus course (plus some on campus electives) and options for either an internship or research project. Courses will focus on governance, policy/legislative, ecological, socio-economic, cultural, and technological elements of sustainable ocean and coastal zone development, planning and management.

Students enrolled in the program will also study the mapping and analysis of human activities and environmental features as part of planning environmentally/economically sustainable use of coastal and marine environments. The program is structured to provide a balance between conceptual/theoretical background and practical applied skills while also studying real world examples.

School of Fisheries instructor Geoff Coughlan was one of the key people who developed the new master’s program. He explains that students will also learn conflict management and facilitation skills to effectively engage coastal and ocean regulators and stakeholders as well as project management and utilization of geospatial technology to support planning efforts. “We expect graduates to work in government agencies, eNGOs, coastal and ocean industry sectors and consulting companies where they will work as marine planners or coastal and marine managers,” said Mr. Coughlan.  “Their role becomes significant when they can suggest solutions where different mandates and interests in our coastal and ocean resources exist.”

Entry to the program is competitive and will be of interest to individuals with a biology, geography, environmental studies, ocean mapping or coastal and ocean management/industry background. A significant strength of the program is the fact that it’s been developed with input from international marine spatial planning experts. Personnel from western Canada, the USA, Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands have been engaged regarding overall program structure and development of key courses. They will also serve as key contacts for potential international internships and research projects.

This is the fifth master’s program available from the Marine Institute complementing its graduate programs in maritime management, fisheries resource management, and technology management with specialties in aquaculture technology or engineering and applied science technology.

Classes will begin in September 2016. More information about courses and admission requirements are available at For further details about the program, check out this short video.