The North Sea is one of the busiest marine areas in the world. It is also a major fisheries ground. Bordered by seven countries with their own spatial uses and claims, the stage is set for complex and demanding governance challenges. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has arrived as a new approach to these issues. It is argued that for North Sea fishing people and their communities MSP holds risks as well as opportunities, depending on which institutions are formed and what role they are allowed to play in the planning process.