Open OceanMap is a data collection tool used to effectively collect local expert knowledge in support of marine conservation planning processes. Data collected from resource users like commercial and recreational fisherman is invaluable for informing fisheries management and marine habitat protection, while taking into consideration the communities that depend on the fisheries. Ecotrust used open source software to develop Open OceanMap for easy dissemination — making it a truly open and community-based tool.|
As marine resources decline around the world, restricting the types of activities permitted in specific geographic areas is one approach to protecting the biodiversity and abundance of marine life — an approach that impacts people as well as fish. But a general lack of data, whether use type or habitat type data, inhibits successful marine area management. By engaging community stakeholders about the value they place on specific areas of the ocean, this data can support management decisions that protect the marine environment while minimizing impacts on port communities.
Open OceanMap is a participatory tool to gather spatially explicit data that informs socioeconomic considerations and assessments (e.g., fishing grounds, cost/earning). Open OceanMap was developed using open source software that frees users from the ties of proprietary software and allows for the development of truly open and community-driven software tools. Open OceanMap, which is both a desktop and web-based application, has allowed us to actively engage the fishing communities through the MLPAI process by not only collecting spatially explicit socioeconomic data that otherwise does not exist, but the interview process also provides necessary outreach to potentially affected coastal communities and individuals. To date, we have interviewed approximately 1000 commercial and recreational fishermen in three study regions of the MLPAI process. The application of Open OceanMap has demonstrated that the inclusion of socioeconomic considerations of fisheries, fishermen, and coastal communities can be fully realized and integrated in marine ecosystem-based management.