Spatially Prioritizing Seafloor Mapping for Coastal and Marine Planning

Coastal ManagementCoastal Management, published online 13 February 2015

By Tim Battista and Kevin O’Brien

“Coastal and marine areas provide vital services to support the economic, cultural, recreational, and ecological needs of human communities, but sustaining these benefits necessitates a balance between growing and often competing uses and activities. Minimizing coastal zone conflict and reducing human-induced impacts to ecological resources requires access to consistent spatial information on the distribution and condition of marine resources. Seafloor mapping provides a detailed and reliable spatial template on the structure of the seafloor that has become a core data need for many resource management strategies. The absence of detailed maps of the seafloor hinders the effectiveness of priority setting in marine policy, regulatory processes, and marine stewardship.

Spatial prioritization results from Hot Spot Analysis.

Spatial prioritization results from Hot Spot Analysis.

“For large management areas, the relatively high cost of seafloor mapping and limited management budgets requires careful spatial prioritization. In order to address this problem, a consensus based approach, aided by decision-support tools, and participatory geographic information systems (GIS), was implemented in Long Island Sound to spatially prioritize locations, define additional data collection efforts needed, and identify products needed to inform decision-making. The methodology developed has utility for other states and regions in need of spatially prioritizing activities for coastal planning, and organizations charged with providing geospatial services to communities with broad informational needs.”