Planning for multiple uses in Massachusetts state waters

Mallory Morgan
Katie Thompson, Mallory Morgan
Posted on: 2/12/2017 - Updated on: 3/02/2020

Posted by

Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

The original Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan (MOMP) was adopted on December 21, 2009, as Massachusetts’s official framework to facilitate the sustainable use of the state’s ocean waters, protect critical marine habitat and uses, and set standards for new ocean-based development. The MOMP was implemented within existing regulatory structure, and requires a review and update at least once every five years by the relevant agencies. The MOMP was initiated with the enactment of the Oceans Act in 2008, which required Massachusetts to develop a comprehensive ocean plan to manage activities in state waters by balancing natural resource protection with other uses, such as renewable energy siting. The Act required that the plan specifically consider climate change and sea level rise.

Working in collaboration with stakeholders, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs first conducted an initial assessment of the best available science and data on ocean resources and uses. This created a management structure to assist the State in balancing current and future uses of the area, while working to protect critical habitat and maintain economic development. The 2015 plan maintains this original management structure while incorporating updates to science and technology and changes in economic, environmental, and political priorities since 2009. Stakeholder and community engagement has been maintained throughout the MOMP’s development and implementation to assist in guiding ongoing efforts. The plan designates three categories of management areas: Prohibited (Cape Cod Ocean Sanctuary), Renewable Energy (Gosnold Wind Energy Area, Martha’s Vineyard Wind Energy Area), and Multi-Use (remaining coastal and marine waters of Massachusetts).

Climate change is primarily incorporated into the Baseline Assessment and Science Framework of the plan as a major ecosystem driver within the state’s ocean waters, along with priority actions to monitor the effects of climate change in the region and to update species distribution and abundance data to support planning decisions. The state actively participates in several monitoring efforts, including Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), the Northeast Coastal Acidification Network (NECAN), NROC/NERACOOS Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change, and the Gulf of Maine Council’s (GoMC) Ecosystem Indicator Partnership. The Massachusetts Ocean Resource Information System (MORIS) is an online mapping tool that allows users to view the management areas, coastal and marine habitats, and marine uses (tourism, shipping, renewable energy) and overlay them with climate and coastal hazard layers.


Thompson, K. & M. Morgan. 2017. Planning for multiple uses in Massachusetts state waters. Summary of a project of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated February 2017)

Affiliated Organizations

The agencies and offices of EEA are progressing toward a clean energy future, but our mission does not stop there. We preserve open space, species habitat, and working landscapes; enforce pollution laws to protect public health and natural resources; review the environmental impact of major real estate and infrastructure developments; enhance the state’s role in energy conservation and production; manage fish and wildlife; and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and access at the parks, beaches, and farms that make Massachusetts a wonderful place to live, work and play.


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