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A Spatial Model for Marine Park Zoning

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The complexity of stakeholder interests, governing structures, and biophysical processes often present challenges in adopting multiple-use approaches in the management of large marine areas. Marine zoning plans provide a mechanism for ensuring the realization of conservation objectives under spatially varying levels of resource use. The need for a systematic and transparent approach to zone planning highlights the role of Geographical Information Science (GIS)-based techniques. The spatial analysis capabilities of GIS enable the development of useful tools for decision makers to interactively explore the outcomes of their decisions and evaluate alternatives. The aim of this study is to develop a generic model for Marine Park zoning that translates management policy into zoning plan options. In demonstrating this model an application to the Shark Bay Marine Park in Western Australia is presented. The model incorporates input from different marine park users and accounts for the legislative requirements of relevant government agencies. User groups indicate their preferences by weighting the importance of management policies and selecting the zone type to be assigned to each marine resource. Hypothetical user views were adopted in the Shark Bay Marine Park application to demonstrate the impact of different decision biases. A series of four alternative zoning plans are generated and assessed in terms of their practical implementation. The outcomes of this study highlight the model's ability to present zoning plan alternatives that reflect varying user opinion. This is evident in the contrasting zoning patterns of generated plans. In assessing the effectiveness of each zoning plan for achieving selected management objectives the research also developed mechanisms to evaluate proposed zoning alternatives. Limitations to the model include the influence of policy structure, the need for integration with terrestrial management, and spatial data uncertainty. The model contributes to multiple-use marine park management by providing a method in which planning options are generated based on existing policy frameworks and transparency in the decision-making process is enabled through interactive weighting techniques.
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Keywords: GIS; legislation; marine management; spatial analysis; zoning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia 2: School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia

Publication date: 01 January 2006

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