Aquaculture site selection and marine spatial planning: the roles of GIS-based tools and models
Around the globe, increasing human activities in coastal and offshore waters have created complex conflicts between different sectors competing for space and between the use and conservation of ocean resources. Like other users, aquaculture proponents evaluate potential offshore sites based primarily on their biological suitability, technical feasibility, and cost considerations. Recently, Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has been promoted as an approach for achieving more ecosystem-based marine management, with a focus on balancing multiple management objectives in a holistic way. Both industry-specific and multiple-use planners all rely heavily on spatially-referenced data, Geographic Information System (GIS)-based analytical tools, and Decision Support Systems (DSS) to explore a range of options and assess their costs and benefits. Although ecological factors can currently be assessed fairly comprehensively, better tools are needed to evaluate and incorporate the economic and social considerations that will also be critical to identifying potential sites and achieving successful marine plans. This section highlights the advances in GIS-based DSS in relation to their capability for aquaculture site selection and their integration into multiple-use MSP. A special case of multiple-use planning—the potential co-location of offshore wind energy and aquaculture—is also discussed, including an example in the German EEZ of the North Sea.