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Open-File Report 2015–1046

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Data Categories for Marine Planning

By Frances L. Lightsom, Giancarlo Cicchetti, and Charles M. Wahle

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (2.11 MB)Abstract

The U.S. National Ocean Policy calls for a science- and ecosystem-based approach to comprehensive planning and management of human activities and their impacts on America’s oceans. The Ocean Community in is an outcome of 2010–2011 work by an interagency working group charged with designing a national information management system to support ocean planning. Within the working group, a smaller team developed a list of the data categories specifically relevant to marine planning. This set of categories is an important consensus statement of the breadth of information types required for ocean planning from a national, multidisciplinary perspective. Although the categories were described in a working document in 2011, they have not yet been fully implemented explicitly in online services or geospatial metadata, in part because authoritative definitions were not created formally. This document describes the purpose of the data categories, provides definitions, and identifies relations among the categories and between the categories and external standards. It is intended to be used by ocean data providers, managers, and users in order to provide a transparent and consistent framework for organizing and describing complex information about marine ecosystems and their connections to humans.

First posted March 17, 2015

For additional information, contact:
Director, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
384 Woods Hole Road
Quissett Campus
Woods Hole, MA 02543
(508) 548–8700

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Suggested citation:

Lightsom, F.L., Cicchetti, Giancarlo, and Wahle, C.M., 2015, Data categories for marine planning: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1046, 29 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)




Purpose of Category Terms

Use Cases

Data Needs for Ocean and Coastal Management

Data Category Terms and Definitions

Identifying Data and Using the Categories


References Cited


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