Marine spatial planning makes room for offshore aquaculture in crowded coastal waters
Marine spatial planning (MSP) seeks to reduce conflicts and environmental impacts, and promote sustainable use of marine ecosystems. Existing MSP approaches have successfully determined how to achieve target levels of ocean area for particular uses while minimizing costs and impacts, but they do not provide a framework that derives analytical solutions in order to co-ordinate siting of multiple uses while balancing the effects of planning on each sector in the system. We develop such a framework for guiding offshore aquaculture (bivalve, finfish, and kelp farming) development in relation to existing sectors and environmental concerns (wild-capture fisheries, viewshed quality, benthic pollution, and disease spread) in California, USA. We identify > 250,000 MSP solutions that generate significant seafood supply and billions of dollars in revenue with minimal impacts (often < 1%) on existing sectors and the environment. We filter solutions to identify candidate locations for high-value, low-impact aquaculture development. Finally, we confirm the expectation of substantial value of our framework over conventional planning focused on maximizing individual objectives.
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