Expertise & Projects

The Urban Harbors Institute assists nonprofit organizations, local community groups, and municipal and state governments in researching and analyzing coastal issues related to water quality, harbor management, waterfront land use, coastal management, coastal development and regulations. Nationally, the institute has analyzed federal legislation related to water transportation, and has advised federal officials on coastal issues. Internationally, the Institute has provided expertise to a number of countries developing integrated coastal management programs or addressing specific coastal issues.

We welcome opportunities to collaborate on projects. Our expertise can best be illustrated through our current/recent projects and through UHI's project history.


Harbor and Port Planning and Management

The Institute works with government agencies and numerous harbor constituencies to analyze port and harbor issues and to develop management plans which balance the needs of commerce, tourism, and the environment. Locally, the Institute has assisted the communities of Rockport, Salem, Fall River, Provincetown, Hull, Scituate, Nantucket, Gloucester, and others with harbor studies and management plans. The Institute has also worked closely with the City of Boston to reduce boat sewage pollution in the Boston Harbor, and has conducted an assessment of the dredging needs in the 206 coastal harbors in Massachusetts.

Ocean and Coastal Planning

The Institute applies its considerable experience in ocean and coastal planning and management programs to assist governments in the US and abroad to improve their capacities for environmental decision-making that integrate economic, environmental, and regulatory frameworks. For example, the institute assisted the government of Bulgaria in developing an integrated coastal management program for its Black Sea coast.

Natural Resource Management

To protect valuable natural resources and coastal areas that are at risk of degradation from pollution, the Institute assists in environmental assessments and the development of sustainable resource management plans. Locally, the institute has worked to develop the Neponset River Estuary Resource Management Plan and undertaken Natural Resource Inventories for the Weir and Gulf Rivers.

Public Education and Participation

The Institute provides a forum for public debates and activities related to current environmental issues. It provides opportunities for the public to access university expertise in marine-related topics and issues. For example, UHI provides coordinating services for the Massachusetts Marine Educators (MME) Boston Harbor Conference held annually at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Additionally, for 12 years UHI organized--together with MA CZM--COASTSWEEP, the annual Massachusetts coastal cleanup that is part of a global effort coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy. 

Seafood System Research

The Institute works collaboratively to develop strategies and programs that advance sustainable seafood and seafood systems. The Institute’s work includes documenting the needs of and opportunities for fishermen, understanding barriers to seafood market development, and working with communities to address fishing-related infrastructure needs. Commercial fishing is a common topic in harbor planning, and was the focus of a recent study to identify potential areas for state investment to build the seafood system in Massachusetts.   

Indicator Framework Development and Performance Evaluation

The Institute works with various local, state, regional, and international agencies to develop indicator frameworks to assess trends in environmental conditions and resource management plan performance. For example, the Institute, in partnership with the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, led a team of experts to select indicators to evaluate the 2009 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. Additionally, UHI developed a framework for identifying and ranking indicators associated with coastal management goals for the Korean Maritime Institute.

Water Transportation

The Institute has been a center for marine transportation, maintained a national ferry database and produced numerous reports on issues such as intermodalism, alternative fuels, port access, and community impacts of ferry systems.

Urban Harbors Institute

100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125

Giving to UMass Boston

Support scientific planning and management expertise to assist governments and communities to address issues associated with harbors and coastal areas.