Current Projects

UHI is collaborating with a variety of stakeholders and partners to complete the following projects. For more information on any of these projects, please contact us at 617-287-5570.

2017 Provincetown Harbor Management Plan

The Town of Provincetown, led by the Harbor Committee and the Office of the Harbormaster, with support from the Urban Harbors Institute (UHI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston, is embarking on an update of the 2012 Provincetown Harbor Plan. The Harbor Plan serves as a guide for public and private decision making on the future of the harbor and waterfront. The plan sets forth a vision for the harbor that maintains its historic character while seeking to improve water-dependent commercial and recreational uses, increase access for the public, and protect the natural resources. For updates on the current plan development process, please click here

Padanaram Harbor Management Plan

Flood Protection System Feasibility Study for Boston Harbor

UHI is part of a team led by Paul Kirshen at the University of Massachusetts Boston that is conducting a flood protection feasibility study for Boston Harbor. More specifically, this study is investigating the practicality of several alternative configurations of harbor-wide storm barriers for Boston Harbor, and is analyzing components associated with constructing, installing, and maintaining these systems (e.g., engineering, financing, and permitting). The team is also assessing the anticipated hydrodynamic, environmental, economic, and social-user impacts of a barrier system for Boston Harbor. This study was initiated by the Green Ribbon Commission, Barr Foundation, and the City of Boston, and fulfills a recommendation identified in 2016 Climate Ready Boston. The team consists of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Urban Harbors Institute, Arcadis, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. For a video overview of this story by Boston 25 News, see Boston 25 News. The final report will be available in the Spring of 2018.

Building the Massachusetts Seafood System

While the volume of Massachusetts-landed groundfish has declined in recent years and foreign imports have put downward pressure on ex-vessel prices, there is significant economic potential in the state’s seafood economy going forward. Funded by the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council, the Urban Harbors Institute and partners are researching economic development strategies and potential needed investments in fishing ports and coastal communities to help strengthen local fishing operations in Massachusetts. The primary project output will be a final report that summarizes recommendations on how to maximize the growth and development of the MA local seafood industry.

Massachusetts Harbormaster Training Curriculum

Harbormasters perform many varied duties including maintaining safe conditions on waterways, ensuring that their communities’ boating infrastructure needs are met, managing moorings and waiting lists, and responding to marine medical emergencies.

The Massachusetts Harbormaster Training Council was established in order to ensure that harbormasters undergo training required to meet the diverse demands of the job. As part of their efforts, the Training Council hired UHI to develop course material covering topics including marine medical emergencies, laws pertaining to harbormasters, and marine theft. UHI has partnered with graduate students in the University’s Instructional Design program, harbormasters, and other experts to develop and test these courses, which will complement existing trainings and provide harbormasters with important skills and knowledge.

East Gloucester Rezoning

The City of Gloucester, assisted by UHI, is in the process of considering revisions to its zoning ordinance for the area of the East Gloucester waterfront removed from the state Designated Port Area (DPA) in 2014. The objectives and requirements of the City’s Marine Industrial (MI) zoning district are consistent with the Chapter 91 regulations for DPAs. Since most of the East Gloucester waterfront is no longer subject to the DPA standards, which prioritize marine industrial use, the City is exploring revisions to its zoning that would both reflect this change and guide future development to achieve the city’s desires for development compatible with existing neighborhood character and promote marine commercial uses that take appropriately advantage of the harbor and increase public access to the waterfront.

Coastal and Ocean Issues in Haiti

Haiti is experiencing a wide variety of coastal and marine issues, including overfishing, mangrove destruction, sedimentation from deforestation, marine debris, and others, which in turn impact the livelihood of the local Haitians. This past September, with seed funding from UMass Boston, UHI traveled to Haiti to research the coastal and marine issues that the country is facing. UHI met with and interviewed coastal and marine experts working in Haiti, and discussed the top issues, current efforts to address these issues, and potential future projects. Click here for the final project summary.

As a next step, UHI will work with partners in Haiti to secure funding that will help address the most pressing coastal and marine issues. 

Marine Debris Initiative

Marine debris, defined as “any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes” (, is a global problem that contributes to habitat destruction, animal entanglement and death, and vessel damage.

UHI is working to increase awareness of and help prevent marine debris through a variety of projects including:

  1. Last year, UHI promoted awareness and prevention of marine debris through a project that encouraged people to share their own prevention strategies with others. Participants had the chance to win a variety of great prizes, including two free tickets to see Jack Johnson play at the Xfinity Center on June 9th. See flyer here.
  2. Coastal cleanup: UHI hosts an annual cleanup in the Fall as part of COASTSWEEP. Stay tuned.
  3. Outreach and Education Programs: UHI conducted marine debris awareness activities at several UMass Boston on-campus events. UHI also considers marine debris in other contracted projects, such as harbor plans, as appropriate.
  4. #BeaconsForBlue: UHI conducted an awareness campaign and hosted a photo contest for UMass Boston faculty, students, and staff to promote awareness of ways in which people can take action to prevent marine debris. More details are available at:

For over 10 years, UHI also served as the coordinator for COASTSWEEP, the annual coastal cleanup effort in Massachusetts, and continues to conduct cleanups as part of this event. 

Urban Harbors Institute

100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125