Background image of Satellite map of the mid-Atlantic coastline with a heavy distribution of colored dots, representing coldwater coral distribution.

Blue Tools: Inclusive mapping for ocean health

Close to 60% of our population is expected live near the coast by 2025. How will we manage increasing demands on the sea, while supporting healthy oceans and coastal livelihoods? Ecotrust has developed innovative technologies and approaches to meet the challenges of ocean and coastal planning.

Ecotrust is often called on to bring together diverse and underrepresented groups to make better decisions about how we use our oceans and other natural resources. To date, we have interviewed over 14,000 fishermen to better understand what places on the map are important to them and why.

And we built on this experience to support the state of California when they set out to establish a new network of marine protected areas.

a pile of spiny lobsters in a trap, close up, colorful, USVI

California’s marine protected areas

California officials wanted to understand the economic value of specific fishing grounds up and down the coast. Using a confidential survey and interactive mapping sessions that won the trust of fishermen, we created detailed maps that gave planners a comprehensive look at how every proposed protected area would affect fishermen’s pocket books.

Providing this data to state officials resulted in a dramatic decrease in the economic impact to fishermen. While early proposals projected up to 14 percent in economic losses to fisheries on the north central coast, final protected areas decreased those projections to just 6 percent. Similarly, our maps and data helped to limit losses and win support from diverse fishing communities along California’s southern and northernmost coast.

“Ecotrust did pioneering work in gaining confidence from people about how information would be used.” –Ken Wiseman, Executive Director of the California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative

Ecotrust and partners also created a mapping tool for California that allowed all ocean users and other stakeholders to easily design their own suggestions for protected areas for consideration by the state. All told, the state received more than 20,000 protected area designs, which were used to forge 52 final protected zones.