Aquaculture site selection: A GIS-based approach to marine spatial planning in Scotland
McWhinnie, Lauren Helen
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This thesis explores, tests and develops various methods and tools for implementing Marine Spatial Planning and aquaculture site selection within Scottish waters. Utilising geographically referenced data sets from numerous sources, a Geographical Information System (GIS) was used to map the spatial distribution of activities; their associated pressures, locations of marine environments and biological communities within Scotland’s sea area. Marine Zoning Schemes such as legislation based Multiple-Use Zoning Scheme and environmentally derived Marine Planning Frameworks have been applied and tested to support and inform the development of a new Prototype Zoning Scheme. The influence of inclusion of different data sets on zone coverage and extent has been explored with specific reference to the amount of protection the resultant zones provide to species and habitats that have significant conservation importance. Building on these zoning schemes, the application of GIS-based Multi-Criteria Analysis models has been appraised and their application investigated for both finfish cage and shellfish long-line aquaculture. This study has explored the suitability of alternative criteria and weighting configurations along with the feasibility of large sea-scale site selection models. In developing and investigating the viability of integrating these models within marine management frameworks such as zoning schemes, this study aims to inform planners, and both aid and inform decision making and management of future aquaculture developments. Together these studies contribute both practical recommendations for sustainable aquaculture development in the future and novel applications within the wider discipline of Marine Spatial Planning. They aim to contribute information to ensure both the sustainability and success of the Scottish aquaculture industry as well as the continued improvement and development of ecosystem-based marine planning and management.