Perhaps the most important challenge for marine planning is to explicitly consider multiple management objectives across different sectors, such as energy production, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable fisheries. Examining trade-offs among objectives and alternative scenarios for meeting objectives represent the most rapidly developing area of marine planning. A closely related challenge is the requirement that the planning objectives are clear and stakeholders are engaged. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) and marine spatial planning (MSP) are frameworks for multi-objective planning.
The future of marine planning and management lies in interactive decision support systems (DSS), which provide transparency and engage a diverse array of people in the planning process. While decision support systems are not a new concept, the latest generation of Web technologies enables important changes in how people interact with data, information, and each other during the marine planning process.