The California Resources Agency and California Department of Fish and Game are partnering with the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and others in an initiative to achieve the goals of the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). The MLPA directs the State of California to design and manage a network of marine protected areas in order to, among other things, protect marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems, and marine natural heritage, as well as improve recreational, educational and study opportunities provided by marine ecosystems. The MLPA Initiative needed an updated, web-based decision support system for designing marine protected areas (MPAs) and communicating proposed designs to stakeholders.
Farallon Geographics, working with the Marine Science Institute at UC Santa Barbara, The Nature Conservancy, and Ecotrust, has developed “MarineMap”, a Web 2.0 mapping and decision support system to identify marine protected areas.
MarineMap combines an extensive catalog of GIS data, sophisticated spatial analysis, and an intuitive user interface to enable members of the public to participate in the selection of marine environments that should be designated for conservation, recreational, and commercial uses. MarineMap allows participants to identify and design marine protected areas (MPAs) interactively, and to share proposed MPA areas among stakeholders.
Farallon helped develop the MarineMap application which achieved several goals:
- Allow stakeholders in the MLPA Initiative to draw the boundaries and indicate the allowable uses of proposed Maps on a map of the Southern California coast.
- Automatically check that stakeholder-defined MPAs meet spatial requirements and scientific criteria defined by the California Department of Fish and Game.
- Allow MarineMap users to share and collaborate on their proposed protection areas.
- Provide robust geospatial data creation tools that do not require GIS training.
- Support mapping professionals and scientists by providing direct access to MPA data using powerful GIS tools to support offline and ad-hoc analyses.
This application is designed to be used by the public, members of the scientific community, environmental advocacy groups, and the California Department of Fish and Game personnel. To support this diverse user community, the GIS complexity has purposely been shielded from the web site users who will be entering site geometries and conducting spatial analyses. More sophisticated users who require direct access to the data or who wish to conduct ad-hoc analyses can interact with the geodatabase using GIS tools such as ArcMap or Open Source alternatives such as QGIS.
MarineMap was deployed in January 2009, and is currently supporting the MPA designation efforts for the Southern California Regional Stakeholders Group. Interested parties can learn more about MarineMap in several ways: