Marine planning is a relatively new field in the UK, and the various responsible authorities have all taken different approaches to engaging the public in their work. Engagement of stakeholder groups has been generally successful, and most impacted sectors are now aware, to a greater or lesser extent, of their need to engage. Public engagement and awareness of marine planning, and associated issues such as invasive non-native species, is generally low and so communities, small businesses and other relevant groups remain poorly informed and can present a considerable issue for implementation of marine plans. Marine planning has been undertaken in the USA for several decades, evolving alongside environmental conflict resolution processes. My aim was to seek a greater understanding of how the processes work in the US and to see where there may be room for lesson learning and therefore improvement in our work practices in the UK.
Community participation is a key to sustainable marine management.