Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



In June 2009, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) released its draft Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan (draft plan) for public comment. The plan is required by the Oceans Act of 2008 to, among other things, be adaptive to evolving knowledge and understanding of the ocean environment. The plan’s Science Framework establishes a blueprint for future research and data acquisition and ensuring that the plan evolves and its management measures adapt to this new and enhanced information. As stated in Chapter 5 of the draft plan, an important part of the science framework is the development and implementation of a performance evaluation system with a series of indicators to help EEA and stakeholders evaluate the implementation of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, identify the environmental and socio-economic impacts of plan management decisions, and identify new or emerging issues.

Volume 2 of the draft plan contains a section entitled Development of Evaluation Measures for the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. This section outlines a proposed process “to identify measures of success or indicators that can be used to measure performance of management strategies in achieving desired outcomes.”

As the development of indicators is a high priority of the draft plan, the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership (MOP) in consultation with EEA contracted with the Urban Harbors Institute (UHI) of the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston). The project team1 and other professionals from organizations and agencies experienced with the selection and use of indicators conducted the process outlined in Volume 2 of the draft plan to identify and select a set of environmental, socio-economic, and governmental indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan.

The work described in this report also contributes to a broader interest and goal of the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership which is to coordinate indicator initiatives to inform ocean management and to advance the development and use of indicators of the ocean’s ability to provide ecosystem services. Currently, there are a number of initiatives, focusing on the coastal and ocean areas of the Northwest Atlantic/Gulf of Maine region, to develop indicators for various purposes and audiences. The process and products of this work in support of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan (e.g., the list of indicators and associated data) will be useful in collaborative efforts to integrate and coordinate these regional efforts.


Prepared by the Urban Harbors Institute, the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Environmental, Earth and Ocean Sciences Department and the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership. With assistance from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.




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