Maps, Networks and a Sea That Won’t Conform: Thinking Critically About Marine Spatial Planning in Scotland
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Scotland has adopted marine spatial planning (MSP) as a key instrument of its National Marine Plan. This follows a global trend in shifting marine governance techniques. MSP is turn away from sectoral governance of the sea and aims to provide an overall plan to better manage the use of marine spaces. It relies on mapping practices aided by geographical information systems (GIS). This paper considers the shortfalls of MSP from a theoretical perspective. Using a framework combining critical cartography and Actor-Network Theory (ANT) it highlights the instances where mapping exercises fail to capture the realities of situated marine conditions and interactions. By breaking down the strict binary divisions such as nature/society and science/society, some delicate networks between human and non-human actants have been exposed. These insights could be used to better inform MSP in Scotland and allow for more representative decision-making.