Marine Planning
Practical Approaches to Ocean and Coastal Decision-Making

USA – West Coast

Biodiversity conservation and fisheries productivity objectives can be put together in one spatial planning framework to advance Ecosystem-Based Management. Photo © Chris Seufert

Biodiversity conservation and fishery production are two of the most common and important objectives in marine resource management, but they have rarely been jointly accounted for in planning approaches.


To examine approaches and methods for linking biodiversity conservation and fishery production objectives within one spatial planning framework.


Pacific Northwest Coast ecoregion (U.S. portion); Northern California Current from Cape Flattery to Cape Mendocino.


This case study explicitly links two different objectives: biodiversity conservation and fishery production. These explicit links were established with Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and two spatial analysis tools: (1) an optimized site selection tool, Marxan, and (2) a fisheries-based ecosystem modeling tool, Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE). These are commonly used tools worldwide for marine biodiversity and fishery planning, respectively. Both offer a tremendous amount of flexibility and transparency in decision support and decision making scenarios. The information presented here offers an example of how biodiversity and fishery production considerations can be jointly addressed; this is not intended to be the optimal or single approach when considering these objectives.

Two approaches are illustrated for combining these objectives. In the first approach, Marxan solutions are developed with and without data on marine fish. In the second approach, Marxan solutions are directly linked to EwE models through the Ecospace module to evaluate the effects of selecting areas for the conservation of representative biodiversity on fishery production.


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