MarineMap - Marine Protected Areas Decision Support Tool


MarineMap is a web-based application used for designing marine protected areas (MPAs). Users with a password may view marine geospatial data layers, draw prospective MPAs, share these MPAs with other users (or keep them private), and assemble MPAs into arrays. Users may generate reports on the resources captured within individual MPAs or packages relative to the amount of those resources represented in the entire study region, estimate economic impacts of prospective MPAs, and discuss MPA designs in a place-based discussion form.

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

  • Conservation and restoration site selection tool
  • Coastal zone management tool


  • GIS based, GIS platform: PostGIS, GRASS 

  • Tool is web based

  • Tool has a GUI available

  • Tool handles socio-economic impacts

  • Visualization capabilities: Maps, Bar charts

  • The MarineMap application is exceptionally user friendly, fast and designed for maximum flexibility, extensibility and distribution. Our consortium is keenly interested in extending this tool for use by others involved in area-based planning.

Expertise Needed

Technical expertise: Basic computer skills sufficient

Scientific expertise: General understanding of issues

Resource Requirements: There is no "off the shelf" installation. Requires customization to meet the specific needs of any given area-based planning effort. All code is open source and may be freely modified. However, doing so requires considerable expertise in Java, Python, EXT, Postgres, PostGIS, GRASS, Apache, Ubuntu. The MarineMap consortium is keenly interested in assisting others with the implementation of this tool and/or hosting a customized version of this tool on the MarineMap servers at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Types of Data Needed

Equipment needs: Recommended: quad-core server running Ubuntu Linux 8.0.4 with 8 MB RAM, 500 GB RAID 5 HD, Postgres SQL, PostGIS, GRASS, GDAL, OpenLayers, GeoServer, Apache

Types of data input needed to use tool: No data are required to use the tool. However, as it is intended to design protected areas based on the evaluation of habitat and economic impacts, a wide variety of GIS layers improves the tool's utility.

Input formats: Vector and raster layers (used by GRASS and PostGIS)

Types of output data from tool: Tabular data representing habitat representation and economic impacts. Also, prospective protected area boundaries.

Output formats: CSV, KML

How Do I Get It?


Tool cost: Free. Customization, implementation and hosting available on a per-case basis.

Related Tools

ArcGIS Desktop (optional) or TileCache (optional) for creating map tiles. QantumGIS may be used for loading data into Postgress database.

Contact Information

Developer: Will McClintock, MarineMap Project Manager

Tool contact: Will McClintock


Phone: 805.893.8782

Address: Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106


Technical support: User manual available January 1, 2009. Online help. MarineMap consortium available for training sessions, consultation, webinars.

Projects that have used this tool: California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative