REDLANDS, Calif., Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Esri has hired Drew Stephens to expand the market for GIS within the ocean industry. Esri, the world leader in GIS, has accelerated the development of its ocean technologies via the Esri Ocean GIS Initiative. As Esri's industry manager for ocean and coastal environments, Stephens will play a key role in this effort through his diverse background and GIS experience. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130214/LA60895) (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110425/LA88950LOGO) "Stephens has worked with Esri for many years promoting the use of GIS to design sustainable practices for land and sea," Esri chief scientist Dr. Dawn Wright said. "By stepping into the industry manager role, he is helping us place geospatial technologies into the hands of many more ocean scientists, fleet managers, and government analysts for decision making, planning, and policy implementation." Skilled in database design, training, and consulting, Stephens brings to Esri more than 20 years of GIS experience and knowledge. He will open opportunities for applications of Esri technologies in research and exploration, marine ecosystems, aquaculture and fisheries, coastal protection, and ocean-use planning. "Esri's contribution to geospatial science has changed the way people view the land and relate to it," Stephens said. "Our technologies, methods, and applications, which have advanced land-use management, are readily adaptable to ocean-use management. I am looking forward to helping ocean organizations put their GIS implementations on the fast track." In 2012, Esri intensified its commitment to ocean technology by launching its Ocean GIS Initiative. Stephens joins the initiative's support team, composed of Esri executives, professional services staff, GIS software engineers, project managers, and instructors, as well as partners. The team is developing mapping and spatial analysis tools, geospatial data, and associated resources specifically for the ocean industry.