Ocean mapping application could soon be available to the public

Port of San Diego and California’s State Lands Commission continue to make progress on joint National Ocean Policy.

SAN DIEGO — Are you intrigued by the mysteries of the ocean and hope to know more about what goes on within the apparently calm seas off the San Diego County coast? There could soon be an app for that, thanks to an evolving partnership between the California State Lands Commission and Port of San Diego.

Members from both agencies made a presentation to the Port of San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners, Oct. 9, to provide updates on a web mapping application for policymakers and the general public. The mapping applications would provide the public with data about the ocean and its uses, according to Jason Giffen, the port district’s assistant vice president of planning and green port.

The port district and California State Lands Commission recently joined forces to manage marine conservation efforts and ocean resources through a National Ocean Policy. Both agencies entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to “effectively plan for use of the ocean space.”

“The planning effort would include development of a pilot-scale marine decision-support framework and spatial analysis tool in costal waters of San Diego County,” a formal document on the multiagency partnership stated.

Port district staff hailed the application as a public-facing informational tool. The datasets could be used to provide navigational aides, inform seafarers of wrecks and obstructions, help anglers or boaters identify Marine Protected Areas and keep the public informed of SCUBA dive and boat launch sites.

The port district’s data sets and web mapping application could also be an asset for this using fishing piers and jetties, according to port district staff.

“The intent of developing the web map application is to make coastal and marine related information available to everyone,” Chris Packer, an analyst with the State Lands Commission, told commissioners. “The ability to visualize multiple layers of data at one time could also help inform management decisions.”

Representatives on behalf of the State Lands Commission and port district all stated the web mapping application would be informative and interactive.

“Ocean users and decision-makers alike can explore and visualize publicly available data relevant to the coast and ocean off San Diego County,” port district staff stated in a report to commissioners. “State Lands staff has developed this geographic information system (GIS) web-based application that will display the many layers of data through an interactive and comprehensive map.”

Giffen told commissioners this is the fourth presentation to the port district’s board on this project. He also reminded commissioners of the port district’s five-pronged public trust jurisdiction; within that jurisdiction are commerce, environmental stewardship, fisheries, navigation and recreation.

“We are also introducing the concept of collaborative stewardship. This concept simply recognizes that while the jurisdictions of the commission and the port are separate and adjacent, the coast and ocean are dynamic in inter-related environments [and requires] a coordinated approach to management,” Giffen told commissioners.

The port staff member added the port district would also collaborate with California’s State Lands Commission on public trust and stewardship issues.

Data collection, stakeholder input and a limited release of the web mapping application will continue into 2019.

“The web mapping application was developed by State Lands staff and houses data compiled by both State Lands and [port] district staff, as well as information on the data source, intended purpose of each dataset, and limitations and constraints of these data. State Lands and [port] district staff are preparing the web mapping application for a limited release to collect, assess, and address feedback on the functionality of the tool,” port district staff stated in a report to commissioners. “A full public release of the Web Mapping Application is anticipated next year.”

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