The Northwest Atlantic Marine Ecoregional Assessment, designed by The Nature Conservancy, is a marine spatial planning process which strives for an integrated management approach to marine conservation design. As ecosystem based management gains momentum, non-governmental organizations and federal agencies have realized the need to consider socio-economic objectives for and impacts of management plans and conservation strategies on coastal and marine-related communities.
This report reviews the application of three methods for the integration of socio-economics in marine conservation planning: market and non-market economic valuation and social impact assessment. Market and non-market economic valuation can be used by marine managers to make informed decisions on conservation alternatives while social impact assessments evaluate the social consequences of specific conservation or management actions. Each of these methods can be represented in a geographic information system (GIS) and integrated with biophysical data in marine spatial planning processes. This report shows how market and non-market economic values and local ecological knowledge can be mapped both onshore and offshore and be used in designing marine conservation strategies.
The findings presented here demonstrate that although there are defined methods for socio-economic analysis and some techniques for integrating socio-economics into marine spatial planning, marine conservation planners are not applying them when making management decisions. This report is a guide for conservation organizations and marine managers on how to set biophysical and socio-economic objectives and use clearly defined methods to incorporate social science into marine conservation and spatial planning.