Spatial decision-support tools can be used for scenario analysis and guide decision-makers towards transparent and knowledge-based spatial planning. Their application for multi-objective zoning in marine socio-ecological systems is beneficial for supporting the on-going Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) process. We consider the sustainable development of aquaculture as one of the main maritime activities for sustainable Blue Growth in the Adriatic Ionian Region. The objective of this research is to conceptualize a strategic multi-objective zoning process for aquaculture expansion and biodiversity protection (seabed habitats, marine mammals, seabirds and turtles species distribution, nursery and spawning areas of commercially important fish species) in the Emilia Romagna Region (Italian Northern Adriatic Sea). This area is characterized by the highest productivity of mussels in Italy and is also intensively used by several maritime industries. The projected growth of the Blue Economy is likely to result in an increase of conflicts and impacts on sensitive environments. The decision support tools Marxan and Marxan with Zones are applied to develop alternative planning scenarios and compare solutions in terms of potential impacts on human activities. To do so, we i) build an aquaculture suitability distribution for important commercial species using a multi-criteria analysis that considers environmental, biological and socio-economic factors; ii) prioritize biodiversity using Marxan, while testing how different considerations of human impacts influences priorities (e.g. minimizing the area, number of maritime activities, distance from ports, aquaculture suitability); iii) simultaneously prioritize aquaculture and biodiversity using Marxan with Zones, while minimizing the impact of the number of maritime activities in the Emilia Romagna Region. We compare our scenarios using a novel nearest-neighbour statistical analysis for Marxan’s outputs to understand similarities and differences among scenarios. We conclude that an integrated multi-objective zoning approach, which simultaneously plans for biodiversity and aquaculture, will support more efficient, and therefore more effective strategies for Blue Growth objectives in the AIR. 

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DOIS: 10.5281/zenodo.3247439 10.5281/zenodo.3247438

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Published on 16/06/19
Accepted on 16/06/19
Submitted on 16/06/19

Volume 2019, 2019
DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3247439
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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