UMass Boston


We welcome opportunities to collaborate on projects. Our expertise can best be illustrated through our current projects and completed projects, which can be viewed below by clicking on the buttons and reading about the types of projects we conduct.

The Urban Harbors Institute's publications are available on ScholarWorks.

Current Projects    Completed Projects

Project Types

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. In 2022, UHI Launched the Municipal Technical Assistance Program to provide specialized services to coastal communities. More on the MTAP is available here.

Municipal Technical Assistance Program

The Urban Harbors Institute (UHI) at UMass Boston recently launched the Municipal Technical Assistance Program (MTAP), which provides short-term capacity and expertise to communities on topics related to coastal and waterfront management and planning. MTAP projects are conducted by UHI staff, senior research associates, and students. Types of projects vary based on local needs, and may include conducting research, implementing programs, evaluating projects, writing grants, drafting regulations, and engaging stakeholders.

UHI staff will work with municipalities to develop scopes that address community needs while working within budget. If you are interested in learning more about how the MTAP program can assist your community, please reach out to MTAP program coordinator, Allison Novelly, at

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.

Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Providers

UHI provides support to municipalities through the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program, which fosters climate adaptation practices at the local level. The program provides support for communities across Massachusetts to consider local strengths and vulnerabilities to climate change and prioritize actions to enhance resiliency. Several UHI staff members are certified by the state as MVP providers, which allows us to provide technical assistance to communities to complete vulnerability assessments and develop resiliency plans.

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.