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Adriplan conflict score tool


The Conflict score tool developed within the Adriplan project allows to quantify the overlapping of uses, calculating the direct spatial conflict score (in the current and future scenarios) based on FP7 project COEXIST methodology. The method includes five consecutive steps: (i) identification of maritime uses; (ii) spatial normalization of uses on a regular square grid; (iii) setting of temporal and spatial attributes for each maritime use; (iv) calculation of the coexistence score per each pair of maritime uses insisting in the same cell of analysis; (v) calculation of the total coexistence score per each cell of analysis. The tool is presently integrated in the ADRIPLAN Portal.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • Which maritime uses are occurring in the same marine area?
  • What are the levels of conflict among different maritime uses?
  • What are the areas mostly affected by competition for space?
  • How can conflict analysis underpin relocation of maritime uses within MSP?
  • What are maritime uses that might coexist in the same area?

Implementation Context

The conflict scores tool is an open source tool developed and used in the ADRIPLAN project to explore current and potential spatial conflicts of maritime uses insisting in the Adriatic-Ionian Region (AIR). The tool has been developed with the intent to be a useful instrument for supporting the construction of future maritime spatial plans under the Ecosystem-Based Approach (EBA).

Aspects / Objectives

The main objectives of the development and application of the conflict score tool in ADRIPLAN were:

  • supporting MSP activities, in particular the definition of strategies and planning measures and the optimization of reallocation of maritime uses considering the management of conflicts between uses as one of the main issue of MSP;
  • carrying out collaborative conflict scores analyses with the maximum transparency of data and procedures;
  • allowing temporal reproducibility of the conflict scores results and periodic repetition of the conflict scores analyses with updated datasets;
  • allowing comparison between different simulations, as well as storing and accessing the conflict scores results of different analyses;
  • spatially identifying the areas in the Adriatic-Ionian sub-basin, where the presence of anthropogenic uses is maximum;
  • spatially identifying the areas in the Adriatic-Ionian sub-basin, where activities from different sectors are more likely overlapping in space and time. These areas are the ones where competition for space in time would be more likely to happen.


The tool is based on the methodology developed by the FP7 project “COEXIST- Interaction in European coastal waters: A roadmap to sustainable integration of aquaculture and fisheries” (Stelzenmüller et al., 2013), analysing the level of coexistence among uses, thus depicting areas where different sectors more likely to overlap in space and time.

From a methodological point of view the analysis on which the tool is based on identifies the potential overlapping coastal and maritime uses in four consecutive steps:

  1. Identification of maritime uses. The maritime activities identified for the analysis are organized in five main categories of uses: energy; maritime transport and tourism; fishery and aquaculture; environmental protection; sand extraction, coastal defence and military.
  2. Spatial normalization of uses typically on a square grid of 1 square km size.
  3. Definition of temporal and spatial attributes for each maritime use. Each maritime use is classified according to four attributes that characterize possible spatial and temporal overlapping uses. Following COEXIST methodology (Shultz et al., 2010), the attributes are defined through experts’ judgment as follows: (i) vertical domain, i.e. position on water column (A = surface/pelagic, B = whole water column, C = bottom/benthonic area); (ii) activity spatial domain (1 = small, 2 = medium, 3 = large); (iii) activity temporal domain (1 = short, 2 = medium, 3 = long/permanent); mobility (F = fix or M = mobile).
  4. Calculation of the “conflict score” for each pair of maritime uses insisting on the same cell of analysis. Maritime uses, which are located in the same cell of analysis, are confronted in pairs. The “conflict score” of each pair of maritime uses is the result of the application of three rules of calculation. The rules, taken from COEXIST methodology (Shultz et al., 2010), mathematically represent the level of potential spatial and temporal conflict between maritime uses
  • Rule 1: if vertical domain of activity 1 is different from vertical domain of activity2 and no one of them interests the whole water column then conflict score is equal to 0;
  • Rule 2: If both activities are “mobile” then conflict score is equal to the minimum of temporal domain plus the minimum of spatial domain.
  • Rule 3: if Rule1 and Rule2 cannot be applied then the conflict score is equal to the maximum value of temporal domain plus the maximum value of spatial domain.

From the application of the above rules and related values, the “conflict  score” of each pair of uses is calculated, ranging from 0 (no conflicts between uses) to 6 (highest level of conflicts between uses). In some particular cases (e.g. particular legislation applied to some activities) expert judgment can be used in order to overwrite the value calculated by rules directly defining the conflict score for specific pair of uses. In case of more than two uses insist in a cell, the resulting conflict score is the sum of the conflict scores for each combination of pair of uses.

Matrix of conflict scores for each pair of maritime uses for the whole ADRIPLAN study area. Source: ADRIPLAN project.


From the operational point of view, the tool has been integrated in the ADRIPLAN Data Portal, in a specific section including also the ADRIPLAN cumulative impacts tool. The conflict score tool currently allows only authorised users to run experiments, simulations and analyses on the conflict scores calculation, interacting directly with the data stored inside the Portal. Users have the possibility to access to a restricted area where it is possible to configure several scenarios (called case studies) by choosing the area of analysis, the grid of resolution and the maritime “use/activity” data layers to perform the conflict score analysis for each cell of the selected area. By running the tool a matrix of uses as well as a map of the conflict scores and relative statistical tables and graphs are displayed. Users can also upload their spatial data layers to the ADRIPLAN platform and create independent case studies analyses. The purpose is to make the application available to all users of ADRIPLAN Data Portal in the next future.


The operational run of the conflict score tool within the ADRIPLAN Data Portal is subdivided in 4 steps:

  • Creation of the square grid cells.
  • Collection of statistics about presence of uses for each cell.
  • Computation of the conflict score for each cell. The score is computed if two or more uses intersect the cell and the total cell score is the sum of scores for each combination of uses. Total score = score(u1,u2) + score(u1,u3) + score(u1,u4) …
  • Publication of the results (layer, styles, metadata) on the ADRIPLAN Data Portal; the style is dynamically created using the Jenks natural breaks classification method.

Screenshot of the case study configuration page: the list of activities used for the conflict score tool implementation as well as the map with the selected macroregion is shown. Source: ADRIPLAN project.

Main Outputs / Results

The main outputs coming out from the implementation of the tool are:

  • Quantification and representation of the conflicts; the main result is a set of raster layers representing: (i) the “score” (total conflict score), (ii) the number of uses overlapping in each cell, (iii) the number of combinations of uses that generate a conflict. Thus the tool allows defining the combination of uses with the highest score of conflict and the combination of uses, which occupies the majority of cells in the domain.
  • Plots and tables representing the contribution of each use to the final score.
  • Analysis of gaps in terms of availability and quality of input data.

The main output achieved in the ADRIPLAN project from the analysis carried out through the conflict score tool is represented in the map below which shows the sum of conflict scores for each combination of pair of uses insisting on the same cell of analysis.

Sum of conflict scores for each combination of pair of uses insisting on the same cell of analysis in the whole AIR. Source: Barbanti A., Campostrini P., Musco F., Sarretta A., Gissi E. (eds.) (2015). Developing a Maritime Spatial Plan for the Adriatic –I


The integration of the conflict score tool into the ADRIPLAN Data Portal has been used to support planning in other case study areas (e.g. high resolution analysis of the Emilia Romagna Region marine space) and to evaluate future scenarios. Furthermore, the release of the python tools under a GPL licence[1] is a guarantee of possible future extensions and adaptation to other environmental domains and applications. Finally, the purpose is to make the application available to all users of ADRIPLAN Data Portal in the next future.

Contact Person

Stefano Menegon


E-mail: (stefano[dot]menegon[at]ismar[dot]cnr[dot]it)


Alessandro Sarretta


E-Mail: (alessandro[dot]sarretta[at]ismar[dot]cnr[dot]it)

Ph.: +39 041 2407929

Responsible Entity

CNR-ISMAR: National Research Council – Institute of Marine Science (Italy)


Costs / Funding Source

Funding Source: the ADRIPLAN Data Portal was developed within the ADRIPLAN project, funded by EC DG MARE. Further update of the tool and its integration in the ADRIPLAN Portal was funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research within the RITMARE Project

Costs: not possible to be defined, as part of the overall funds to the ADRIPLAN project and Ritmare projects.


[1]  Menegon S, Sarretta A, Barbanti A, Gissi E, Venier C. (2016) Open source tools to support Integrated Coastal Management and Maritime Spatial Planning. PeerJ Preprints 4:e2245v2