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Chad Keith's M.S. Degree, 2004

GIS Modeling of Potential Marine Protected Areas in the Northwest Atlantic via Biological and Socioeconomic Parameters

Master of Science, Geography, Oregon State University, Fall 2004
Emphasis in Geographic Information Science, Minor in Marine Resource Management

Graduate committee: D. Wright, Selina Heppell, A.J. Kimerling, J. Lundy

Chad Keith
NOAA NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center
166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1026

Overfishing of our national marine resources has degraded some of the most productive fishing regions in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, most notably the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, and may have shifted trophic regimes to a less than optimal state in these regions (Sinclair et al, 1997, Jennings et al, 2001). Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been offered as an effective management tool to preserve biodiversity, enhance commercial fisheries, and protect against poor decisions in fisheries management (Bohnsack, 1999). Geographic information systems (GIS) brings together the fields of geography and fisheries management to help build a better understanding of the spatial interactions of complex marine environments (e.g., Kracker, 1999). Using GIS and spatial management such as MPAs can help fishery managers conserve and improve the population status of important biological resources while helping to preserve commercial fishing, an important social and political industry in New England.

Incorporating the needs of stakeholders in management decisions is necessary in order to implement an effective fisheries management strategy (e.g., Malakoff, 2002). This study used a weighted optimization raster model in a GIS to compare biologically significant regions, which were composed of biodiversity estimates, and spawning and juvenile habitats, important to commercial fishing grounds in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. Biodiversity, spawning and juvenile data values were derived from fishery independent data collected by the National Marine Fisheries Service in Woods Hole, MA. The essential commercial fishing zones were created from Vessel Trip Reports, which are derived directly from reports sent in by federally permitted fishers. The weighted model compares the biologically important resources from an area, or cell, to the level of commercial fishing occurring in the same cell using simple mathematically algorithms in map algebra. The model output shows where placement of MPAs might be most beneficial in order to conserve marine resources and enhance fisheries, as well as areas where fishing is more suitable. Output can be viewed in multiple ways, a spectrum of values ranging from negative numbers to positive ones or simply as areas important for the fishing community or potential MPA. The more negative the value in the spectrum output then the more important the area would be for fishers and conversely the more positive the output then the more suitable the area would be for possible MPA designation.

The optimization model can be tuned to meet management goals and objectives by adjusting the weighting scenarios for the input variables. The model design can be used for multiple species and ecosystem management or to protect specifically targeted species of particular concern. Managers may use the output to delineate MPAs in a variety of ways depending on the conditions of the resources and the prospects of the fishing community. Managers will enjoy greater success as the needs of both fishers and biological resources are met.

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Also available in the ScholarsArchive@OSU permanent collection

Thesis Defense Presentation

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