Systematic Marine Conservation Planning in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion [Graduate Project].
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The Scotian shelf bioregion constitutes an area of intense socio-economic activity. Key activities in the bioregion include fisheries, oil and gas, shipping, and aquaculture. However, Canada’s commitment to protect at least 10% of the bioregion through networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) will require trade-offs between conservation and other human economic and social activities. This project draws on the principles of systematic conservation planning to explore and assess alternative designs of networks of marine protected area for the Scotian shelf, trying to achieve results that are: 1) effective in meeting conservation goals and 2) efficient in minimizing potential sea-use conflicts among stakeholders. In order to accomplish the former objectives, the project follows a systematic planning approach that allows for the selection of conservation features, the setting of goals and targets and the application of a selection process of conservation sites using Marxan software package and ArcGIS. To minimize cost among other sea uses, spatial distribution of socio-economic activities (fisheries) are used and a reverse Marxan was performed. The selection frequency of the reverse Marxan was used as a cost layer and this enabled avoiding areas that are frequently used for other activities in the bioregion. Results first indicate that the current network is ineffective in terms of representation and adequacy. Second, it identifies new areas that would complement the MPA system and improve the network’s adequacy. Finally, it demonstrates how incorporating socio-economic costs can undermine some of the properties of MPA network design, particularly, spatial configuration (size, shape, spacing), and could increase the potential of conflicts with other marine activities not taken into account in the definition of costs.