Decision making in marine environment

Decision making in marine environment

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Andrew Binns
Andrew Binns1, Lisa Strain2, Abbas Rajabifard3 and Ian Williamson4
1Research Fellow 2MGeomEng Candidate 3Deputy Director 4Director
Centre for SDIs and Land Administration
the University of Melbourne, Australia
[email protected]

GIS is now being used to aid decision making in the marine environment, with interactive mapping applications, marine and coastal data download tools and associated metadata becoming readily available through various GIS systems. This paper aims to discuss the use of SDI and marine cadastre in helping marine GIS users gain access to critical information relating to maritime boundaries

Introduction
The world’s oceans cover almost two thirds of the surface of the earth, regulating weather patterns and sustaining a huge variety of plant and animal life (UN, 2003). Given the diversity of this area, there is an economic, social and environmental need to effectively manage it. This management is difficult, due to the complex web of national and international government legislation, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). There are also overlapping and competing rights and responsibilities of a myriad of activities within the marine environment, often governed by separate agencies. In order to manage these rights and activities in the marine environment effectively, clear spatial certainty in relation to marine boundaries is needed (Collier et al. 2003). This can be achieved through the use of spatial information and decision support tools such as marine GIS.

Historically, the marine environment has been managed secondary to the terrestrial environment through sectoral planning, with government fisheries agencies managing fisheries and historical shipwrecks managed by a separate government agency. Jurisdictional limits and marine boundaries are multiple and often unclear, there is generally no single agency managing offshore rights, and the mapping of legal boundaries is difficult due to the three-dimensional aspect and lack of physical reference. Added to this, information needed to effectively manage the marine environment is stored within silos, with no interconnection between relevant information streams.

The management of the terrestrial environment evolved in a similar fashion to the marine environment, with spatial information in particular built up in silos. However the three global driver of sustainable development has created the need for greater access to environmental, economic, and social information. The introduction of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a tool to aid in decision making has also seen the need to break down the barriers between agencies and silos. For effective analysis within a GIS, there must be access to a wide range of interoperable spatial datasets. In order to effectively and efficiently access and disseminate such spatial data, there has been the need to develop Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI), which aid in breaking down barriers between users and producers of spatial data.

GIS is now being used to aid decision making in the Marine Environment, with interactive mapping applications, marine and coastal data download tools and associated metadata becoming readily available through various GIS systems. This paper aims to discuss the use of a SDI and marine cadastre in helping marine GIS users gain access to critical information relating to maritime boundaries and other important information used in marine management. Gaining access to such information will aid decision makers in utilising the wide range of tools offered through GIS packages in the marine environment, enabling the worlds oceans to be managed in line with current sustainable development drivers.