Abstract This paper examines the concept of maritime multi-use as a territorial/SPATIAL governance instrument for the enhancement of sustainable development in five EU sea basins. Multi-use (MU) is expected to enhance the productivity of blue economy sectors, as well as deliver additional socio-economic benefits related to the environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development. The paper provides a definition of maritime multi-use and identifies the multi-uses with the highest potential in EU sea basins. In each sea basin, multi-use plays a different role as concerns sustainable development. For the Eastern Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, the MU focus should remain on the environmental pillar of sustainable development. In the North Sea, North Atlantic and Western Baltic Sea, addressing social sustainability seems a key precondition for success of MU in enhancement of sustainable spatial development at sea. Moreover, it has been suggested to introduce MU key global strategies such as SDGs or Macroregional strategies and action plans and to supplement maritime spatial planning with sectoral incentives and educational efforts as key vehicles supporting MU. The paper concludes by identifying aspects which, in order to inform maritime spatial planning and maritime governance regarding a more conscious application of the aforementioned concept, require further investigation. Key tasks are related to: more profound evaluation of performance of policies supporting MUs, researching the impact of MU on societal goals and on the MU costs and benefits, including external ones, and finally identifying the impact of MU on the development of various sectors and regions on land.