Governance is the activity of governing. It relates to the organizational responsibilities for marine planning and how those responsibilities are discharged.

Effective implementation of marine planning and management requires that there is a plan making body with authority to plan and that there are mechanisms for the delivery of any measures required to support the achievement of plan objectives and targets. Ideally these should be vested in the same body to ensure continuity and consistency. It also requires that stakeholders are adequately engaged in plan preparation and accepting/supportive of plan policies.

Governance arrangements for the sea are, in some respects, more complex than those for land because various aspects of management have an international dimension, in particular, navigation and commercial fisheries, and because most plan areas have boundaries that adjoin areas of international jurisdiction. However the sea is not broken down into smaller administrative units like regions, counties, cities and other forms of municipality superimposed on very fragmented patterns of land ownership which is the case with land based governance. 

Development of appropriate governance arrangements for marine planning will be important in ensuring that adequate involvement of relevant stakeholders can occur and that competing priorities and interests can be balanced to achieve sustainable development.