What spatial information is used to address socio-cultural objectives in marine spatial planning?

Supervisory Team:

Primary supervisor: Myriam Lacharité

Co-supervisor: Maree Fudge

Additional supervisors:

Brief project description:

Marine spatial planning (MSP) is increasingly used to manage ocean resources in complex and crowded socio-ecological systems. MSP aims to meet general and specific objectives to ensure a balance is struck between fair and sustainable economic development and the conservation of the marine environment. The outcome of an MSP process is a ‘plan’ which can be refined according to evolving needs and stakeholder sentiment. This plan then becomes the basis for the management and regulation of the socio-ecological system.

The MSP process relies on the availability of relevant and accurate spatial information on marine ecosystems and biodiversity, ocean uses and the delineation of zones under regulatory frameworks, as well as threats and pressures. Over the past decade, socio-cultural objectives have been increasingly explicitly included in MSP; however, Australian marine spatial plans examined in a recent study do not explicitly include socio-cultural objectives, instead focusing on the distribution of ecosystems and biological communities (Zurcher et al. 20221). To address this gap in Australian MSP processes we pose the following research question: if socio-cultural objectives are to be more broadly included in future Australian marine spatial plans, what information is relevant and could be used to meet these needs? The aim for this honours project is to draw on examples from overseas to determine: 1) the information and data used in the development of and/or monitoring of marine spatial plans specifically to address socio-cultural objectives, 2) if this information is spatially explicit and if so, in what ways or formats, and 3) to what extent this information and data are applicable in the Australian context.

1Zurcher, R., Motzer, N., Magris, R.A., Flannery, W. 2022. Narrowing the gap between marine spatial planning aspirations and realities. ICES Journal of Marine Sciences, 0: 1-9.

Skills students will develop during this research project:

Systematic literature review, spatial analysis, marine management.

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
May 31, 2022