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Toward More Integrated Ocean Governance in Massachusetts: A Progress Report

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Since 2000, recent proposals for new offshore uses such as wind and wave energy projects and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals have highlighted areas where the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' ocean management process could be improved in order to move away from the first come, first served approach the state has historically taken to a more coordinated ocean governance regime. Massachusetts proposes to convert the largely reactive case-by-case permitting system to a more proactive governance regime. This article will review past efforts under two main regulatory frameworks, the Public Waterfront Act and the Ocean Sanctuaries Act, propose six key components of a planning approach, discuss recent legislative history, and reflect on Massachusetts' experience to date through Cicin-Sain's (1990) “Factors Conducive to Ocean Management Initiatives.” Initially proposed over fifteen years ago, in a review of California's Ocean Management efforts, Cicin-Sain (1990) described “four major variables that influence the likelihood that ocean management initiatives will emerge and be sustained in particular states.” They include: (1) Degree of Severity of Ocean and Coastal Governance Problems and the Role of Focusing Events, (2) Political Readiness, (3) Governmental Readiness, and (4) State Ocean Heritage and Popular Opinion Variables.
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Keywords: Massachusetts; governance; marine spatial planning; ocean management

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: 2008-07-01

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