Governance to support multi-use platforms at sea: recommendations from discourse analysis

Burg, S.W.K. van den; Rammelt, T.; Stuiver, M.


There is growing focus on multi-functional use of the marine environment. The solution presented is to combine
different economic activities in ‘multi-use platforms at sea’ (MUPS). An expanding body of literature focusses on
the economic, technical or social challenges that follow from combining these different functions at sea. Current
Dutch policy sees MUPS as a promising way to make the most out of scarce space available but present rules and
regulations not supportive of MUPS.
To find the right mode of governance for developing MUPS one needs a discourse coalition with a shared
definition of (1) the problem tackled, (2) the solution it brings, (3) the solutions envisioned (including design and
user functions) and (4) the role of various actors in bringing about these solutions. In this article we present a
discourse analysis of the North Sea on the governance of MUPS.
It shows that there is no single shared discourse but that there are contesting views on what MUPS are or
should be. Although some convergence of discourse takes place, the question whose problem is solved by MUPS
remains unanswered: do they solve public problems such as nature conservation and spatial planning or are
MUPS the solution to high Operation and Maintenance costs? This hampers the development of multi-use
platforms at sea with neither public nor private actors willing to take the lead.