Analyzing Tradeoffs: Barriers to Using Decision Support Tools for Marine Spatial Planning

Last modified: 
June 29, 2017 - 8:08am
Type: Thesis
Year of publication: 2015
Authors: Kirsten Nelsen
Institution: University of Washington
City: Seattle
Academic department: School of Marine and Environmental Affairs
Degree: Master of Marine Affairs

lthough the literature surrounding the development of decision support tools (DSTs) has rapidly expanded in recent years, their use in marine spatial planning (MSP) processes remains limited. Tradeoff analysis is considered essential to the MSP process by most implementation guides, but the use of DSTs to conduct tradeoff analysis is rare. Here I identify the barriers to widespread use of DSTs for tradeoff analysis. To inform this objective, I conduct an independent assessment of three DSTs that have been used in MSP in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each. Based on this analysis, I identify weaknesses that may contribute to infrequent use in tradeoff analysis and MSP development. Ultimately, three major barriers are detected: 1) significant data requirements impede institutional capacity to use DSTs; 2) lack of sufficient documentation and information available to practitioners; and 3) outputs that can be difficult to interpret for stakeholders and decision-makers. Because of the barriers identified, practitioners may benefit from using simpler tools as part of a broader stakeholder process.

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