Marine Reserves and Local Fisheries - An Interactive Simulation


This simulation-based educational tool allows users to experiment with the use of marine reserves as tools in fisheries management and to explore various biological and economic factors that influence population viability and fisheries sustainability. Focusing on key Caribbean fisheries species, their habitat preferences, the distribution of these habitats across the seascape, economic costs and proceeds from small-scale fisheries, and simple models of fishing behavior, the Java-based simulation provides an easy to use but flexible platform for visualizing and exploring multiple ecological and human dimensions of fisheries management and marine reserve design.

What Is It?

Stakeholder engagement and outreach tool (for participatory goal and priority setting and stakeholder education)

Visualization tool (for data and scenarios)

Decision support tool - Fisheries management tool


  • Tool has a GUI available

  • Tool does simulations

  • Tool handles socio-economic impacts

  • Visualization capabilities: satellite imagery of a coral reef seascape; habitat map; habitat suitability maps; animated dots representing fishing movements; moving time series of fisheries results


  • There are fixed ranges of most parameters

Expertise Needed

Technical expertise: Basic computer skills sufficient

Scientific expertise: General understanding of issues/Some scientific background necessary

Resource Requirements: The simulation is very simple to learn and operate; approximately 1-2 hrs may be required for a knowledgeable user to fully explore the functionality of the simulation. More time is likely necessary to think about and prepare for the best ways to introduce the simulation to various user groups (e.g., students in class, stakeholders at a workshop, etc.)

Types of Data Needed

Equipment needs: Any computer operating system (e.g., Mac OS, Windows) running Java

Types of data input needed to use tool: simulation includes all the necessary data; no additional inputs are required beyond parameter settings

Input formats: parameters are selected using drop down menus and mouse-selected grid cells

Types of output data from tool: various simulation results are displayed as spatial and time series graphs

Output formats: graphs as png files; input parameters are saved as a txt file

How Do I Get It?


Demo Website:

Tool Cost: free

Contact Information

Developer: Steven Phillips, Daniel R. Brumbaugh, Eugenia Naro-Maciel

Tool contact: Daniel R. Brumbaugh


Phone: 831-420-3963

Address: Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024, USA


Technical support: A written exercise and exercise solutions, along with additional background information, are available to educators wishing to use the simulation as a computer lab exercise

Projects that have used this tool: The simulation has been used with stakeholders in The Bahamas and Ecuador, and with many US, UK, and NZ undergraduate and graduate courses in marine ecology & conservation