• Conservation area design;
  • human activities;
  • marine conservation;
  • marine protected areas;
  • marine reserves;
  • socioeconomic data;
  • systematic conservation planning


A common objective in identifying conservation areas is to minimize conservation costs while achieving a set of conservation targets. Recent literature highlights the importance of incorporating socioeconomic costs into conservation planning. Here, we review how costs have been used in systematic marine conservation planning. Four approaches emerged from the literature: (1) uniform cost or area as a proxy for human use, (2) opportunity costs, (3) multiple socioeconomic costs, and (4) measures of naturalness or ecological impact of human activities. Most marine systematic conservation planning projects that used a spatially explicit socioeconomic cost focused on fisheries as the opportunity cost. No study has incorporated transaction or management costs into the design of marine protected areas using systematic conservation planning software. Combining multiple costs into one cost is one of the primary challenges of incorporating socioeconomic costs into conservation planning decision support tools. Combining many costs is feasible when each cost is measured in the same unit (e.g., dollars), but this information is rarely available in marine planning. Where the objective of the planning exercise is to minimize impacts on multiple stakeholder groups, the use of separate scenarios or multi-zone software may be a viable option.