According to Article 47 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the exclusive right to the Lithuanian maritime area belongs to the Republic of Lithuania. The maritime area of Lithuania borders Latvia to the north, the Russian Federation to the south and Sweden in the western part. The area within a 20m water depth is part of the coastal zone. Current governance of the sea space is defined by legal acts relating to the use of the maritime space and responsibilities of the Republic of Lithuania as stipulated in international treaties and agreements in which it participates. The Master Plan of the Territory of the Republic of Lithuania is supplemented with the maritime part.

From the administrative point of view, it is convenient that the entire maritime territory of Lithuania belongs to one (Klaipeda) county, which consists of seven municipalities. Five of them (Klaipeda, Neringa and Palanga cities, as well as Klaipeda and Silute rural districts) are situated on the Baltic Sea and / or the Curonian Lagoon coast. Four marine and coastal sub-regions could be distinguished along the Lithuanian Baltic Sea coast. Conventionally, for the MSP planning purposes and ignoring slight differences in the bottom topography and habitats, these four sub-regions can be delimited by the 55°35’, 55°45’ and 55°55’ parallel lines. Remarkably, this delimitation also roughly coincides with the division of the Baltic Sea coast among the four municipalities of Lithuania – Neringa, Klaipeda and Palanga cities and Klaipeda rural district (rayon).

There are more than 20 legal acts (Parliamentary Acts and Governmental Decrees) guiding the use of the maritime territory of Lithuania. According to the national law (Marine Environmental Protection Act), the territorial waters of the Republic of Lithuania is a 12 nautical mile stretch of the Baltic Sea offshore zone off the coast of the Republic of Lithuania. It is defined by international treaties of the Republic of Lithuania, generally recognized principles and norms of international law.

In Lithuania, there is no specific legal act dealing with maritime spatial planning. The MSP is implemented based on the existing Spatial Planning Act by supplementing the existing Master Plan of the Territory of the Republic of Lithuania with marine spatial solutions (both for territorial waters and the EEZ). The revised Spatial Planning Act adopted on 27 June 2013, which came into force on 1 January 2014, includes stipulations on planning for the sea space. The same stands at different levels of planning are included in the Rules of Complex Territorial Documents Preparation adopted by the Minister of Environment Order No. D1-8 on 2 January, 2014 as an executive legal act, following the revised Spatial Planning Act.

According to the Spatial Planning Act (1995), the master plans of territory of the Republic of Lithuania, territories of counties, municipalities and their parts are obligatory planning documents in order to ensure the long-term sustainable development and reasoned use of the area, finances and natural resources. During the planning of the Lithuanian marine areas, new functional Contiguous Zone was established. Already existing in terrestrial plan – Coastal zone (including territorial waters) was prioritized for recreation, nature conservation and fishery as well as transport.

The Master plan considers the possibility for exploration and exploitation of marine mineral resources in marine area of Lithuania, except near shore and marine protected areas. The exploration of marine mineral resources in Lithuania is not started yet, therefore the specific, most suitable or reserved areas could not be defined at this stage. The developed map of planned marine activities delineates seven functional regions with specific prioritization for marine activities. Each of the region has the unique set of the priority sea uses identified and indexed to reflect the primary and secondary group of uses to be developed in the delineated region.

A relatively small maritime territory of Lithuania accommodates a national marine park which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, a regional marine park as well as numerous Natura 2000 sites. Article 27 of the Marine Environment Protection Act determines the regulation of activities in the maritime area of the Republic of Lithuania. Article 29 of the Marine Environment Protection Act defines the process of establishing marine protected areas (thereinafter referred to as MPAs). MPAs shall be established in accordance with the Protected Areas Act of Lithuania to preserve valuable or characteristic natural complexes, natural habitats or species, animal migration, wintering, seasonal gathering, breeding sites in the maritime area of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Coastal Zone Act of the Republic of Lithuania was adopted by the Lithuanian Parliament on July 2, 2002. Article 1 of the Coastal Zone Act of the Republic of Lithuania defines the objectives for the establishment of the coastal zone, its components, defines the protection and use of the coastal landscape, the conditions for the use of the terrestrial and the marine parts of the coastal zone and the restrictions on economic activities in this territory. The land and the sea within the coastal zone are an exclusive public property and belongs to the state, except those private lots of land, which have been established before the Act came into force.

There are two established state parks in the coastal zone of Lithuania covering vast marine areas of the Baltic Sea and designated as MPAs, i.e, protected areas with their own administrations, which are responsible to the State Service of Protected Territories at the national Ministry of Environment: Kursiu nerija national park and Pajuris (Littoral) regional park. They altogether cover app. 30% of the total coastal and maritime territory. The administrations of the state parks in their activity must follow special nature protection plans of these territories, which have to be approved by the national Government.

Biosphere polygons or grounds are a very special type of marine protected areas which is available only in Lithuania. These protected areas should not be confused with biosphere reserves. Biosphere grounds or polygons have been established and integrated into the system of protected areas of Lithuania since 2004. Their network is being created as part of a national monitoring system concerned with the state of complex and special biological diversity, and as part of the Natura 2000 series of protected areas on the European Union.

The relatively small maritime territory of Lithuania accommodates four main navigation routes, the multi-purpose deep-water port of Klaipėda, the oil terminals in Būtingė and Klaipėda, the port of Šventoji, offshore military training grounds, near-shore fishery bars and offshore fishing areas. Yet, current sustainable development priorities of Blue Economy in Lithuania are first of all related to shipping since the economic role of commercial fisheries is steadily declining. There is also an underwater high voltage electricity link to Sweden (NORDLINK) operating since 2015. Recently, certain areas of the maritime territory of Lithuania have been investigated for offshore wind energy (thereinafter referred to as OWE) and reserved for sand extraction purposes.

The development of wind farms is envisaged in the maritime part of the Master Plan of the Republic of Lithuania at the 20-50 m depth north of Klaipėda. The Klaipėda-Ventspils Plateau and the Klaipėda Bank are recommended as the most suitable sites for offshore wind energy farm development. With the exception of a 3350 MW capacity farm, this maritime area can accommodate the offshore wind farms of any other capacity – from 200 MW to 1600 MW. Some of the areas identified have valid environmental impact assessment decisions.