Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marine Sciences and Technology

First Advisor

Michael Tlusty

Second Advisor

Robert F. Chen

Third Advisor

Kristin Uiterwyk


There are many ways to address and improve the sustainability of the food system, and multiple approaches are necessary; however, one that does not get enough recognition is the innovation of policy and community in the decision-making process. This is especially true in the growing shellfish aquaculture sector in Massachusetts as it works to increase transparency, outreach, and build public support necessary for the sustainable shellfish expansion in the state.

This dissertation works to address those needs under a modernized scope through assessing stakeholder concerns regarding potential user group conflicts and through a cumulative environmental impact assessment that evaluates different gear types based on the level of ecological disturbance as presented in the scientific literature. In thoroughly evaluating impacts and user conflict of existing and proposed aquaculture sites, this analysis will inform and then streamline aspects of state-level review as the state develops the Massachusetts Aquaculture Permitting Plan (MAPP) in conjunction with the Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative (MSI). In addition to informing ongoing streamlining and engagement efforts, this dissertation established a more comprehensive analysis of environmental and public use sustainability schemes investigating shellfish aquaculture industry best management practices (BMPs) and third-party global certification schemes (VCS). Understanding how these schemes structure various environmental and public use standards is an essential factor when communicating environmental policy thresholds for the industry. Overall, this dissertation works to understand what is acceptable in terms of Massachusetts shellfish aquaculture’s effect on the environment, investigates the tools that work to certify the level of acceptable environmental impacts, and identifies the effects that are acceptable to the stakeholders directly involved and associated with the shellfish aquaculture activity.


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