Marine Managed Areas: Best Practices for Boundary Making

Marine managed areas (MMA) are geographic areas designed to protect or manage resources within the marine environment, and their effectiveness is dependent on the development of sound boundaries. This publication provides a short, useful guide—best practices—for writing boundary descriptions for federal, state, or local marine managed areas within U.S. waters and for developing those boundaries within a GIS environment.

The best practices presented within this handbook are listed under three broad categories, or steps, that outline the general boundary delimitation process and the knowledge that a boundary developer must draw upon. These steps include

  • Step 1 – Conceptualize the Marine Managed Area: Explores the context and circumstances of creating a new marine managed area that should be examined as part of the development process
  • Step 2 – Describe the Marine Boundary: Provides guidance for writing the description of a marine boundary
  • Step 3 – Generate the Digital Boundary: Points to authoritative data sources and provides sound practices for developing, documenting, and disseminating digital boundary files
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