By Sarah Carr

Marine spatial planning (MSP) can help deal with emerging and existing conflicts for ocean space. Many steps in an MSP process require or are facilitated by the use of software tools or other well-defined, spatially-explicit methodologies. For example:

  • Management Identifying the Needs of Ocean Ecosystems (MINOE) (; available for free) can help identify laws, regulations, and agencies relevant to management of ecosystems. Users construct or import ecosystem models with elements and relationships. MINOE outputs laws and regulations containing the elements and relationships, and highlights governance gaps.
  • Cumulative Impacts Model (; available for free) is a process for mapping human activities that impact ecological communities. It quantifies the vulnerability of marine ecosystems to these activities, and assesses the cumulative impacts of human uses on the ecosystem. Human activities can be included or excluded from consideration to determine suites of activities that can meet objectives for a given area.

You can learn more about tools for other MSP tasks at

[Editor's note: The goal of The EBM Toolbox is to promote awareness of software tools for facilitating EBM processes. It is brought to you by the EBM Tools Network, a voluntary alliance of tool users and developers. Sarah Carr is coordinator of the Network. Learn more about EBM tools and sign up for Network updates at]