Geographic Information System in a Multi-Criteria Tool for Mariculture Site Selection

Coastal Management

Coastal Management, published online 13 February 2015

By Joana Micael, Ana C. Costa, Paula Aguiar, António Medeiros, and Helena Calado

“The continuous growth in fish consumption and related activities is stressing the fishing industry worldwide. To counteract this, mariculture might represent an opportunity for consumers, industry and marine resource sustainability, as long as careful site selection is taken into consideration. The current study was developed to assess potential sites for the implementation of marine fish-cage industries on the Azores Archipelago (North Atlantic), through the application of a multi-criteria approach based on geographic information. Descriptors that may have either direct or indirect influences on the development of mariculture activity in the Azores were discriminated into factors and constraints and grouped into environmental, socioeconomic, and administrative categories.

Overall suitability map for offshore mariculture implementation in the waters around S˜ao Miguel.

Overall suitability map for offshore mariculture implementation in the waters around Sao

“Factors were weighted and data integrated using geographic information system (GIS) methods. Suitability maps were generated and a total area of 17.7 km2 was identified as suitable for mariculture in Sao Miguel Island, segmented into different option levels. This multiple criteria approach provides the information necessary for stakeholders to realize the effects of each descriptor in possible implementation sites for mariculture. This will be a useful tool to improve environmental planning, management and decision-making for mariculture activities.”