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Research > Centers > Marine Policy Center

Marine Policy Center

Marine Policy Center Director Andrew Solow (left) confers with Amit Huppert, a postdoctoral research fellow, on a paper they authored on the use of corals in reconstructing past climate history. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst)
The Marine Policy Center (MPC) conducts social scientific research that integrates economics, policy analysis, and law with the Institution’s basic research in ocean sciences. Areas of recent research include off shore wind energy, fisheries and aquaculture, and the management of coastal and marine resources.

Offshore wind energy was an important new focus in 2003. Wind energy is the fastest-growing sector of the electric power industry domestically and worldwide, and the United States accounts for about 15 percent of the world’s wind energy market. In recent years, about two dozen proposals have been advanced to build wind farms at locations in the U.S. coastal ocean where winds are consistently strong, demand for power is concentrated nearby, and connections to the electric power grid are readily available.

In October, MPC researchers convened a workshop of international specialists to examine issues raised by such proposals, which entail a new use of a public resource that must be balanced against other, potentially conflicting, uses. Research Specialists Porter Hoagland and Hauke Kite-Powell and Research Assistant Mary Schumacher organized the event, with support from the Coastal Ocean Institute.

The workshop focused on the development of a U.S. management approach and policy framework for siting wind energy facilities in the coastal ocean. Off shore wind energy proposals are currently addressed through a rudimentary system based on the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which was not written with this particular ocean use in mind. The system is incapable of handling multiple claims to the same area, nor can it provide a rational framework for minimizing environmental impacts and conflicts between users.

MPC researchers are now drafting a white paper that will summarize the discussions and results of the workshop. In the next phase of its research, the team will identify features of an optimal system of legal access to offshore areas; describe the tradeoffs that must be confronted by the agencies managing the access system; and propose areas where further policy analysis is most likely to contribute to informed public decisions about the location of wind farms.

In other ongoing projects, MPC researchers are assessing the economic impacts of the introduction and spread of non-native aquatic nuisance species, and evaluating a range of management alternatives. Another study is examining the potential for nutrient removal from coastal waters through the cultivation and harvesting of filter-feeding shellfish, such as oysters and clams.

• Andy Beet, Information Systems Associate II

—Andrew Solow (asolow@whoi.edu)
Marine Policy Center Director

Related Web Sites
Marine Policy Center (MPC)