Ocean zoning for conservation, fisheries and marine renewable energy: Assessing trade-offs and co-location opportunities
Oceans, particularly coastal areas, are getting busier and within this increasingly human-dominated seascape, marine biodiversity continues to decline. Attempts to maintain and restore marine biodiversity are becoming more spatial, principally through the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs). MPAs compete for space with other uses, and the emergence of new industries, such as marine renewable energy generation, will increase competition for space. Decision makers require guidance on how to zone the ocean to conserve biodiversity, mitigate conflict and accommodate multiple uses. Here we used empirical data and freely available planning software to identified priority areas for multiple ocean zones, which incorporate goals for biodiversity conservation, two types of renewable energy, and three types of fishing. We developed an approached to evaluate trade-offs between industries and we investigated the impacts of co-locating some fishing activities within renewable energy sites. We observed non-linear trade-offs between industries. We also found that different subsectors within those industries experienced very different trade-off curves. Incorporating co-location resulted in significant reductions in cost to the fishing industry, including fisheries that were not co-located. Co-location also altered the optimal location of renewable energy zones with planning solutions. Our findings have broad implications for ocean zoning and marine spatial planning. In particular, they highlight the need to include industry subsectors when assessing trade-offs and they stress the importance of considering co-location opportunities from the outset. Our research reinforces the need for multi-industry ocean-zoning and demonstrates how it can be undertaken within the framework of strategic conservation planning.