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Planning the Sea: MARXAN as a tool for operational Maritime Spatial Planning

International Short Course on Marxan. 11-12-13 January 2016. At CNR-ISMAR headquarters in Venice.

Thursday 07 January 2016

Planning the Sea: MARXAN as a tool for operational Maritime Spatial Planning

Short introduction

The initiative to organize an International Short Course on Marxan arises from the experiences gathered by CNR-ISMAR within the Flagship Project RITMARE (, and mainly through its subproject 3 - "Maritime Spatial Planning in the Coastal Zone" and the ADRIPLAN project ( Both of these projects, led by CNR-ISMAR, have been characterized by acquiring data and information, tuning methodologies and tools, and developing analysis and proposals within the Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) context. MSP is indeed a central theme as highlighted by the recent European Directive 2014/89/EU "A framework for Maritime Spatial Planning" and by the Strategy supporting its implementation, recently activated DG Mare. This Directive aims to establish a framework to promote the sustainable growth of maritime economies, the sustainable development of marine areas and the sustainable use of marine resources. According to the new Directive, Member States are required to develop national maritime spatial plans by 2021. It is in this context that Marxan could become a very useful tool in order to provide different scenarios of Maritime Spatial Planning.


Introduction to Marxan

Marxan is the most widely used tool in conservation and resource use planning. It can recommend a network of areas for protection and other spatial management regimes in marine, terrestrial, freshwater, and a combination of systems. Developed by Ian Ball and Hugh Possingham from the University of Queensland, Australia, Marxan is a decision support tool that is  free and open source ( Marxan supports spatial prioritization by producing objective, transparent, and repeatable results. The software can facilitate smart decision-making that accounts for a broad range of considerations, stakeholders, and tradeoffs in a spatially and economically efficient manner. Marxan can also be an excellent tool to inform Marine Spatial Planning processes.



The course will be held in English during the days 11-12-13 January 2016, with the following program that will combine theoretical and applied aspects, with the presentation of international case studies and a focus on the Adriatic-Ionian Region.

Day 1
Monday January 11th, 2016

10:00 - 10:30   Welcome and Introductions
10:30 - 11:15   Talk 1: Setting the context for systematic conservation planning

11:15 - 11:45   Coffee Break

11:45 - 12:45   Talk 2: What is Marxan
12:45 - 14:00   Talk 3: Goals, Objectives and Targets

14:00 - 15:00   Lunch

15:00 - 16:00   Talk 4: “Costs” – the social, economic, and cultural sides of Marxan analyses
16:00 - 17:00   Talk 5: Stakeholder communication and working with results
17:00 - 18:00   Talk 6: Marxan case study application (guest speakers)

Day 2
Tuesday January 12th, 2016

9:30 - 10:15    Talk 1: Introduction to Marxan input files and parameters

10:15 - 10:45   Coffee Break

10:45 - 11:45   Talk 2: Introduction to Marxan output files
11:45 - 13:00   Talk 3: How Marxan finds efficient solutions

13:00 - 14:00   Lunch

14:00 - 15:00   Talk 4: Introduction to Zonae Cogito
15:00 - 16:00   Talk 5: Marxan parameters setting: calibrating with Zonae Cogito
16:00 - 17:00   Talk 6: Introduction to Marxan with Zones, Marxan with Probabilities and Connectivity

Day 3
Wednesday January 13th, 2016

9:00 – 10:00    Talk 1: Introduction to the hands-on exercise: a two-zone Marxan analysis for Adrian-Ionian region
10:00 – 11:15   Hands-on exercise

11:15 – 11:30   Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00   Talk 8: Marxan with Zones: data needs, case studies, and introduction to Rottness Island Exercise

13:00 – 14:00   Lunch

14:00 – 14:45   Hands-on exercise: Rottnest Island on Marxan. net
14:45 – 15:15   Talk 9: Introduce Marxan with Zones group exercise
15:15 – 16:45   Group hands-on exercise
16:45 – 17:00   Wrap-up

Intended Audience

The course is limited to 30 people, including those directly or indirectly involved in the Maritime Spatial Planning (Administrations, Universities and Research Institutes, Practitioners, Sectoral Organizations and Associations, etc.).



The course will be lectured by PacMARA and University of Queensland instructors, who carefully prepared the talks, and customized hands-on activities using data from the Adriatic Ionian Region and in collaboration with CNR-ISMAR.

The Pacific Marine Analysis and Research Association (PacMARA) is a charitable organization of science and planning professionals dedicated to building and increasing capacity in marine and coastal planning in Canada and internationally. Our goal is to help promote sustainable prosperity through communication, coordination, and collaboration – ultimately linking science with decision making.


Norma Serra, MA, is a marine biologist and GIS analyst specialized in coastal and marine risk assessment and planning. Norma’s roles with PacMARA as Program Manager are to represent PacMARA, participate in activities related to marine ecosystem based management, marine spatial planning and associated science policy development. Norma is also one of the lead Marxan trainers with PacMARA, delivering courses in Canada, Europe and South America. Norma also works as a Research Associate in the Geography Department at University of Victoria, Canada, as part of the CORAL team and NEMES project.

Jennifer McGowan, MA, is a PhD candidate at The University of Queensland, Australia specializing in spatial conservation planning for marine and coastal ecosystems. She has used systematic conservation planning approaches to underpin conservation prioritisation all around the world from California to Papua New Guinea, and consulted with many government agencies, NGOs and universities on how to best conserve marine biodiversity while minimizing impacts on people. Her academic research focuses on developing and integrating novel methods for mobile species conservation into decision-support tools. Website:


Costs and registrations

  • Registration fee is 550 euros + VAT (reduction to 380 euros + VAT for students).
  • Please contact the organizing secretariat at or phone +39 041 2407 929 for information about registration.
  • To register please click on the link
  • The final registration acceptance will be confirmed through email by the secretariat subject to place availability.


Registration deadline

Registrations are open until the 20th December 2015. Late registrations will be subject to place availability.



Sestiere San Marco 5303, 30124 Venezia

Tel: (+39).041.2413895



Cannaregio n. 923, 30124 Venezia

tel. +39 041 5244 356



Palazzo Cavagnis, Castello 5170, I–30122 Venezia

tel. 041-5286797 (9:00-13:00, 18:00-20:00)

fax 041-2416238




Zattere Dorsoduro 909/A - 30123 Venezia

Tel. 0415224077

fax 0415286214



S. Croce 946 30135 Venezia

tel. +39 041 718490

Fax +39 041 244872


Dorsoduro 912/A – 30100 Venezia

Tel. +39 041 5226230

Fax: +39 041 5280043


Dorsoduro 1058 (Fondamenta Bollani) - 30123 Venice

Tel. +39 0415210188

Fax. +39 0415239152


San Vidal 2894, 30124 Venezia,

tel. +39 041 2770542

fax +39 041 786766



S. Marco, 2976 - 30124 Venezia

Tel:. +39.041.5204888

Fax: +39.041.5212730




The course will be held at the premises of CNR-ISMAR (Institute of Marine Sciences), Arsenale - Tesa 104, Castello 2737/F, 30122 Venezia, Italy. The place can be achieved from the train station Venezia S.Lucia and Piazzale Roma by boat (line 5.2), stops in Celestia or Bacini, sees the maps.
For timetables see

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