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Massachusetts Spatial Tradeoffs

Assessing tradeoffs between multiple ocean uses for optimal wind energy placement

Massachusetts_Maritime_Academy_wind_turbine_Dawn.jpgCoastal marine ecosystems are becoming increasingly crowded with multiple and often conflicting uses. Marine spatial planning (MSP) is an approach to allocate uses across the seascape in order to reduce conflicts and enhance benefits across multiple sectors. SFG Postdoctoral Researcher Crow White, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership, Boston University, University of Vermont, and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, developed a bioeconomic model for guiding the optimal siting of offshore wind farms in Massachusetts Bay. The model assessed the tradeoffs between wave energy, fisheries and recreational activities for different wave energy siting options in order to minimize spatial conflicts and maximize the value of a range of uses.


This project first estimated the spatial distribution and value of commercial fishing and whale watching tourism in Massachusetts Bay in response to wind farm development. White and his collaborators then measured the gains in values achieved from coordinated planning compared to managing one sector at a time. Marine spatial planning increased the values of different ocean uses from a few percent to nearly 50%, with the greatest benefit for the energy sector.

This project is the first to demonstrate the real-world value of strategic Marine Spatial Planning for reducing sector conflicts and increasing ecosystem value in a region that is likely to host the first commercial scale offshore renewable energy facilities in the US.


Photo credit: MA wind turbine: Dawn Boileau; Flounder fishermen: Feeney