Before the protected area selection and design phase of a new MPA or MPA network, data issues must be addressed. This includes collecting data, analyzing data, and synthesizing data in a way that can be used to make decisions, and later to justify rationale for management choices. These steps are summarized below. For more information please refer to the sections devoted to these steps.
Data Collection: Gathering information about the habitats and ecological processes in the area of interest is the first step. Identifying reefs that are resistant or resilient to the effects of bleaching can inform decisions about habitat representation in a protected area.
Data Analysis: Analyzing sites of interest in terms of connectivity and other factors, such as resistance/resilience, ecological function, resources available, human activity, and threats to resources will help in priority setting.
Data Synthesis: Synthesizing information from the first two steps, using both information about occurrences of habitats as well as the overall ecological function of the system and opportunities for protection, will assist in prioritizing the most likely candidates for protection.