Northeast Sea Grant's Regional Social Science Research
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Northeast Sea Grant Regional Consortium Awards Grants for Regional Social Science Research Valued at $919,695


Peg Van Patten, Connecticut Sea Grant, E:

Barbara Branca, New York Sea Grant, E:

Groton, CT, April 3, 2012 - States in New England and New York share many emerging problems in common.  Changes that affect the environment also affect people and the economy.  To forge a strong link between people, environmental problems, and social science, The Northeast Sea Grant Consortium has awarded $597,356 for four new research projects focused on the human relationship to coastal and marine ecosystems. The projects will address coastal and marine spatial planning, fisheries management, and climate change adaptation.  The total value of the research package is $919,695, including additional non-federal funds contributed.  The research grants were selected based on their merit and importance to the region.   The funding is awarded to Sea Grant programs by the U.S. Department of Commerce, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Individual projects include:

Decision support for the economic analysis of trade-offs in coastal and marine spatial planning for the US Northeast Region
PI: Porter Hoagland, Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and collaborators
Northeast Sea Grant Consortium Regional Funding:  $199,696; Matching funds: $101,079

The Northeast Regional Ocean Council’s framework for coastal and marine spatial planning, in accordance with the National Ocean Policy, requires the analysis of tradeoffs among the different marine uses for a given region. This project will examine how communities evaluate and select among these tradeoffs, incorporating ecological, social, and economic data with existing and potential human uses and the overarching ecosystem context and constraints. Hoagland’s team will adapt regional economic impact models to assess changes in the spatial and temporal distribution of human uses and activities. The research will focus on three case studies: spatial fisheries management in the Gulf of Maine, wind power siting in the Gulf of Maine, and wind power siting off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Climate change adaptation and ecosystem service resilience in Northeast coastal communities
PI: Robert Johnston, George Perkins Marsh Institute, Clark University, and collaborators
Northeast Sea Grant Consortium Regional funding: $199,947; Matching funds: $118,335

Northeast coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to hazards from a changing climate, including sea level rise and increasing magnitude of storm-related floods. These communities are beginning to grapple with the realities of adapting to these coastal hazards and are seeking information to help them in their efforts.  Johnston’s team will develop and incorporate an economic valuation framework in the Nature Conservancy’s Coastal Resilience modeling and visualization tool, providing a comprehensive understanding of the economic benefits, costs, and tradeoffs of various adaptation scenarios.

Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Catch Share Management in the NortheastMultispecies Fishery
PI: Christopher Glass, University of New Hampshire, and collaborators
Northeast Sea Grant Regional Consortium Project funding: $118,131; Matching funds: $60,565

The project aims to assess the social and economic impacts of New Hampshire’s multispecies fisheries catch share program. The resulting insights will help determine whether the catch share fishery program, now three years old, is effective and if it benefits the fishing industry. It will also serve as a baseline for future assessments and potential applicability to other fisheries.

The governance role of local authorities in marine spatial planning: a legal assessment of prospects and problems
PI: John. Duff, Dept. of Environmental, Earth and Ocean Sciences University of Massachusetts Boston
Northeast Sea Grant Consortium Regional Project funding: $79,582; Matching funds: $42,360

Recent efforts to employ marine spatial planning to improve coastal and ocean resource stewardship are underway, but an understanding of the challenges faced by local governments is not well understood.  Duff will examine how federal, state, and local authorities are working together with stakeholders on existing coastal and marine spatial planning in the northeast states from Maine to New Jersey.  The factors that played a role in developing authority-sharing arrangements will be documented and analyzed.  The results will help identify and address the problems and legal questions that may arise when using various ecosystem-based approaches to facilitate management in the future.

The Northeast Sea Grant Consortium’s mission is to enhance regional cooperation and improve coordination of regional ocean program initiatives in the Northeast region, using research, outreach, education, and diversity activities.  Consortium membership consists of seven Sea Grant programs in six states:

New York Sea Grant, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, is a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources. NYSG is one of 32 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and is a cooperative program of the State University of New York and Cornell University.

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