Community Outcomes and Opportunities

While still in its early stages, there is evidence of coastal communities and other “communities of interest” translating and selectively using ocean planning products and processes for group benefit. Rather than being disenfranchised by a state planning effort, some communities are finding and taking advantage of opportunities to intervene and benefit their own livelihoods. This follows from many of the goals of MSP and regional ocean planning, but also differs from some of the theoretical expectation of some ocean management and resource governance research. As a result, we are interested in further exploring how and where MSP engages communities, and where communities themselves might intervene or be empowered through planning processes.

This is an ongoing research focus in our work. It overlaps with our research theme on MSP and its relationship to enclosure, is a consistent part of our ongoing papers in prep, and is also engaged in Fairbanks’ examination of offshore aquaculture policy and perceptions in New England, published in Ocean & Coastal Management:

  • Fairbanks, L. 2016. Moving mussels offshore? Perceptions of offshore aquaculture policy and expansion in New England. Ocean and Coastal Management 130: 1-12. — Click for abstract
    Efforts to expand marine aquaculture into offshore environments have increased in the United States, however many questions remain about whether offshore aquaculture is a feasible and appropriate activity. This paper explores these questions by investigating stakeholder perceptions of offshore mussel aquaculture in New England, USA. These views provide insight into the important challenges and opportunities facing expansion, and elucidate whether and how industry may develop and be incorporated into ocean planning and management. Results shows that regulatory and financial conditions are considered the primary challenges facing offshore expansion, whereas technical, environmental, and market conditions were generally deemed favorable or manageable. There is greater uncertainty about social and political conditions. While moving mussel aquaculture offshore lessens the conflicts associated with inshore activity, it also moves industry into new spaces with unfamiliar users. There are tensions inherent in addressing these challenges. Whereas broad regulatory change will encourage offshore development, targeted government involvement may be more productive in the near term. Similarly, while large seafood companies may appear viable candidates for offshore development, they are also limited by regulatory, social, and political resistance. Overall, an increased emphasis on government interventions at the local and regional scale are desirable for proponents of offshore expansion. The paper discusses the management implications of these findings, and suggests that a shift in focus toward targeted and non-regulatory government interventions; local, regional, and informal planning discussions; and community-based and cooperative mussel aquaculture initiatives may hold promise for responsible development in New England offshore waters and elsewhere