Seafloor mapping and cartography for the management of marine protected areas

  • Manuel Meidinger | UBICA s.r.l., Genova, Italy.
  • Markantonatou Vasiliki Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’Ambiente (DiSVA), Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy.
  • Marcello Sano UBICA s.r.l., Genova and Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, Griffith University Queensland, Australia, Italy.
  • Marco Palma UBICA s.r.l., Genova, Italy.
  • Massimo Ponti Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche ed Ambientali (BiGeA), Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, Ravenna, Italy.


Geographical information systems (GIS) and diagnostic cartography have traditionally been shown to be useful tools for the application of ecosystem-based management (EBM). To date, bionomic and diagnostic cartographic approaches have been commonly used to support decision-making in the selection, zoning and management of marine protected areas (MPAs), with a range of practical tools developed for this purpose. In addition to these, new and emerging technologies have the potential for generating better information for scientists, managers and other stakeholders alike, such as underwater survey tools, three dimensional (3D) visualisation systems and interactive web platforms. These new methodologies allow taking into account the spatial heterogeneity and temporal variability of the marine environment, to be managed for conservation. This paper reviews emerging and innovative technologies for marine mapping and marine spatial planning with a special focus on their use in MPA management. These include the generation and use of benthic cartography, scientific visualisation of ecosystem analyses, web-based GIS platforms and their final use as decision-support tools. Seafloor mapping technology has been improved and become more affordable for local scale MPA management purposes. However, the lack of coherent local scale spatial data still remains an issue, limiting the power of diagnostic cartography analyses within MPAs. The proposed framework can improve the generation and dissemination of cartographic and visual data, and allow for management approaches based on scientific knowledge and EBM principles, taking into account stakeholders needs.



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marine protected areas, GIS, spatial decision-support tools, diagnostic cartography, seafloor mapping, technology
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How to Cite
Meidinger, M., Vasiliki, M., Sano, M., Palma, M., & Ponti, M. (2013). Seafloor mapping and cartography for the management of marine protected areas. Advances in Oceanography and Limnology, 4(2), 120-137.

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