Shellfish Aquaculture Map Viewers: An Assessment of Design, Data, and Functions to Inform Planning and Siting in the United States
Shellfish aquaculture in the United States contributes to the global seafood supply, provides habitat and restoration opportunities, and enhances the economic sustainability of coastal communities. Most marine aquaculture production (two-thirds by value) in the United States comprises bivalve shellfish (oysters, clams, and mussels). As the marine aquaculture footprint grows, so too does the potential for negative environmental and space–use interactions. To streamline shellfish aquaculture permitting, many states have developed web-based aquaculture map viewers to communicate critical regulatory, space–use, and natural resource information. In this study, 18 state-level shellfish aquaculture map viewers were reviewed for common design approaches, important data considerations, and useful tools and functions. Key characteristics of a successful shellfish aquaculture map viewer include a user-friendly interface, instructional guidance, the ability to assess both opportunity and risk, inclusion of authoritative data, and a long-term maintenance plan for the viewer and data. The most common design approaches reviewed were Esri Web AppBuilder and Google. Viewers ranged from having 3–27 layers, with “view orthoimagery” (94%) as the most commonly occurring function. This review provides valuable information on using map viewers and technological innovation to communicate shellfish aquaculture planning and permitting information to a variety of stakeholders.