AbstractToday, increasing use intensity and establishment of new sea uses such as offshore wind farming can be observed in coastal and marine waters. This development also increases the pressure on coastal and marine ecosystems. The exclusive economic zone of the German North Sea can serve as an example for this development, in particular illustrating the need to combine multiple uses and societal demands within a given sea area. In order to deal with the resulting conflicts and cumulative impacts, new planning tools and integrated approaches to planning and management are developing. While the sea becomes a contested but at the same time politically recognised area, also conflicts rooted in different perceptions, values and attitudes of coastal people can be observed. In order to deal with the current challenges in marine areas, marine spatial planning and similar tools for integrated planning need to be developed in the form of communication processes, which link diverse sets of information and span a dialogue between groups of society and across spatial scales including the transnational dimension.