Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



The Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan (Plan) completed in 2009 recognized recreational boating as an activity with “significant actual and prospective conflicts among multiple waterway uses in Massachusetts” and included the economic value of recreational boating as a key socio-economic indicator that will be used to inform coastal management. At the time of Plan completion, statistically robust recreational boating data were identified as an important need for comprehensive ocean planning.

To fill this data gap, the 2010 Massachusetts Recreational Boater Survey gathered information on boating activity in Massachusetts’ coastal and ocean waters directly from recreational boaters. Researchers sent 10,000 surveys to owners of Massachusetts registered and documented vessels in the spring of 2010 asking for participation in the six month study. Over 22% responded and provided detailed information through monthly surveys between May and October about their boating trips including expenditures, recreational activities, and routes. Boaters plotted their spatial data (routes and activity areas) using an innovative online open source mapping tool. Using statistical methods and economic models, the demographic and economic information from the sample of boaters was generalized to the population of Massachusetts boaters.

Results revealed the economic contribution of this activity to the Massachusetts economy - an estimated $806 million in 2010. Information gathered through the survey was also compiled into comprehensive maps depicting recreational boating patterns and density, and was used to better understand details of the recreational boating community, such as the most common boat size, the typical age of Bay State boaters, etc.

The research findings will be incorporated into the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan and can be used by resource managers, the boating industry and others in many ways, such as ensuring boating routes and destinations receive appropriate attention in ocean planning efforts.


This research is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Prepared for The Massachusetts Ocean Partnership.



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