2006 GIS Conference

Geographic Information Systems and Ocean Mapping in Support of Fisheries Research and Management

Conference Overview

The importance of ocean mapping to support the management of living marine resources, conserve habitats, and protect biodiversity has been thoroughly reviewed and promoted by government organizations and independent commissions (e.g. U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, NOAA Fisheries Service, and Pew Oceans Commission). The need to coordinate mapping initiatives has motivated the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sea Grant College Program and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center to convene this conference. In recent years, advances in collecting oceanographic data, new applications of ocean mapping, and expanding digital communication technologies have provided many new opportunities to integrate vast amounts of information in managing natural resources. This conference will focus attention on the areas where communication can facilitate data integration, so that marine resource scientists and managers can better utilize emerging technologies to make accurate, informed decisions.

This conference will provide a forum where researchers, scientists, and managers from around the Northeast Regional Ecosystem (Cape Hatteras through the Gulf of Maine) may present and discuss the application of geographic information systems (GIS) and ocean mapping as tools that support fisheries science and management. The objective is to identify opportunities for coordinating the use of oceanographic data, ocean mapping tools, internet technologies and innovative data sharing techniques to support fisheries science and integrated ocean management, through discussion of the following:

  • Describe current GIS databases and how they are being used;
  • Identify scientific and management data needs for the next 5 years;
  • Prioritize data gaps and identify mapping needs;
  • Develop strategies and methods for meeting identified data needs;
  • Formalize these in a report for NOAA and other agencies, with the aim of providing a document useful for leveraging synergies, fostering collaboration, and programs planning.

Speakers will address these topics within the context of the Northeast Regional Ecosystem. A poster session will encourage those working in the areas of GIS, ocean mapping, data sharing, and/or fisheries research and management, to share current and emerging work. The day will conclude with a panel discussion focusing on how to foster cooperative research among participants and establish an Ocean Mapping Network for the Northeast.

A document will be prepared that summarizes the presentations, poster information, and discussions to provide NOAA and other agencies with insights gained from the conference that can be applied to enhanced collaborations and integration of technologies, data access, and GIS applications with management needs.

Organizations and individuals are encouraged to submit poster abstracts addressing fisheries management applications of their work.

Topics of interest include:

  • Geographic information systems and data products;
  • Data collection methods;
  • Ocean mapping projects;
  • Data sharing and communication technologies;
  • Visualization and display techniques;
  • Marine data analysis applications;
  • Ocean management and decision making techniques.

Application areas of interest include:

  • Competing usages of marine habitats;
  • Fisheries activity and impacts on marine ecosystems;
  • Distribution of cold-water corals and other species and habitats of concern;
  • Effects of marine protected areas on ecosystems services including the role of MPAs for fisheries and biodiversity conservation;
  • Essential Fish Habitat and Habitat Areas of Particular Concern.