NOAA Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Data and Tools

Featured Resource

Marine Spatial Planning Toolkit

A Preliminary MSP Toolkit containing software tools or other well-defined spatial methodologies.


To assist resource planners and managers in selecting appropriate decision support tools (DSTs) that can help enable more effective marine planning, there is a need to catalog and assess the relevancy of existing decision support tools, models, and methods. In April 2011, the Center for Ocean Solutions published the Decision Guide: Selecting Decision Support Tools for Marine Spatial Planning, based on the outcomes from a series of workshops held in 2010. This guide presents a detailed rubric for characterizing and comparing decision support tools specifically with respect to the steps in a marine planning process and is intended to assist practitioners in selecting appropriate DSTs that can help them conduct planning in their jurisdiction. The guide also provides some case studies illustrating how the nine DSTs are commonly used to address marine planning related needs, and provides a simple priority needs assessment to help tool developers and practitioners determine where future efforts and collaborations could best be allocated.

Building upon this effort, a small group from the NOAA National Marine Protected Areas Center and NOAA Office for Coastal Management has worked to:

  • Adapt, simplify and refine the COS rubric
  • Identify, classify and incorporate a number of additional DSTs and models
  • Compile additional resources and related content

This information will be made available via an interactive website in the near future (Spring 2013) and will enable practitioners to easily and effectively identify DSTs, models, and methods to aid in ocean planning.

In the meantime, users should visit Ocean Tools on, which highlights a series of tools valuable to marine planning.