Development and evaluation of GIS-based models for planning and management of coastal aquaculture : a case study in Sinaloa, Mexico
This study describes the development and exploration of environmental and socioeconomic land-based models, implemented in a Geographical Information System (GIS) for coastal aquaculture development at two planning levels using the State of Sinaloa, Mexico as an example. At a state-level, a very large database was constructed and models were created which focused on different themes: natural resources, land uses, social impacts, production modifiers and market potential. These models enabled multi-criteria decision-making of land allocation for aquaculture. In assessing final aquaculture site considerations models identified wider management options and resolved conflicts of land allocation and land use between production activities competing for resources through the use of multi-objective land allocation decision-making techniques. At a site-level, the Huizache-Caimanero lagoon system was identified by the state-level models as being a suitable site for testing the state model's accuracy. Moreover, these smaller more detailed models showed potential to model the wider effects of an activity and clearly had potential for dynamic modelling of environmental impacts. To evaluate the spatial accuracy and primary data content of the site-levels models and consequently the state-level models a Global Positioning System (GPS) was programmed in Stirling for use in Sinaloa through which it was possible to update and/or modify the database and confirm the general accuracy of the models. This study objectively showed the extent of opportunities for land-based aquacuiture in Sinaloa and further demonstrates the usefulness of GIS as an aquaculture planning tool. Model programming was found to be a very useful tool, enabling regeneration of multiple scenarios very quickly. In general, creating submodels for criteria in natural groupings such as water availability, water quality, etc., allowed the user to evaluate and manipulate these criteria before integrating them into a general model. Thus, spatial modelling provided a more comprehensive and integrated treatment for aquaculture development criteria than is usually possible by manual processing. Overall, it was found that GIS can be used to assess and direct aquaculture development very comprehensively and has enormous potential in aquaculture and related studies.