February 6, 2012

Humans in Marine Ecosystems - Addressing Needs and Concerns

Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Time: 1:00 - 3:30 pm
Room: E38-300 (292 Main St., Cambridge)

Open to the public.
RSVP appreciated, to Gayle Sherman, gsherman@mit.edu

Click here for the program. Each speaker presents their scientific findings, then answers questions from the audience. Please join us at 1:00 pm in the E38-300 conference room to listen, learn and participate in this stakeholder forum.


Di Jin and Porter Hoagland, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Development of a Scientific Management Framework to Support the Ecosystem-Based Management of Coastal Resources

The implementation of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) requires the development of new analytic tools to integrate different environmental, ecological, and socio-economic data from various sources and to capture explicitly the interactions among different components in the entire ecosystem in order to simulate and assess the effects of different management options. We develop a scientific management framework to support the implementation of EBFM in New England. The focus of our study is to develop a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model that explicitly includes marine resource sectors and that could be linked to a marine food web model to examine the interactions among different components of the coastal economy and the marine ecosystem.

We illustrate our integrated ecological and economic framework using two examples: (1) an original five-sector model that includes the following “industry sectors” agriculture, manufacturing, commercial fishing, seafood processing, and other; and (2) an expanded nine-sector model that includes the four non-fishing sectors and five fishing sectors characterized by gear type: lobster (pot), trawl, scallop (dredge), gillnet, and other. We show that the integrated model framework can be used to develop “what-if” type policy simulations for many important issues that coastal and ocean managers are facing (e.g., marine spatial planning and climate change impact assessments). Through comparative analyses, we show how economic and distributional tradeoffs among alternative policy options can be evaluated effectively.

Geoffrey Cowles, University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

A High-Resolution Model for the Resource Assessment of Tidal Kinetic Energy off the Massachusetts Coast and Evaluation of Hydrodynamic Impacts

In resource assessments of tidal kinetic energy, the environmental impact of a marine turbine installation is typically quantified through a Significant Impact Factor (SIF), which is the proportion of kinetic energy that can be extracted without causing major flow disruption, and, relatedly, adverse environmental changes resulting from the modification of local hydraulics. Values that have been used for SIF in several prominent studies have ranged from 15-20%. It is unlikely however that a universal factor exists. Some areas are likely more sensitive than others, for example those in proximity to an ailing estuary. Other areas may allow for greater levels of extraction, thus enhancing the commercial viability of a project. Advances in coastal circulation modeling make it feasible to assess the available resource and to evaluate potential impacts of proposed installations using a hydrodynamic model of the coastal waters. In this work we present several applications to tidal kinetic energy using the Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM). The kernel of FVCOM computes a solution of the hydrostatic primitive equations on unstructured grids using a finite-volume flux formulation. The unstructured grid modeling approach is highly advantageous for resolving dynamics in regions with complex shorelines and bathymetry, such as estuaries, embayments, and coastal headlands and channels. The influence of the energy extraction by the turbines is formulated through a modification of the governing equations in FVCOM. We will present a resource assessment of tidal kinetic energy for the Massachusetts coast using a high-resolution model for Massachusetts waters with a minimum grid spacing of 10-m along the coast. Results of idealized turbine impact simulations in an idealized embayment using several implementation methodologies will also be shown. Impact studies for a realistic setting will focus on Muskeget Channel, site of a proposed tidal energy project. Modifications to morphology, sediment fluxes, sea surface height, and residence time associated with the extraction of tidal kinetic energy will be presented.

Madeleine Hall-Arber, MIT Sea Grant College Program

A Web of Stakeholders

Management of common property in the U.S. requires that the views of stakeholders be taken into consideration. Social Impact Assessments are the most common vehicle for stakeholder input and are demanded by the National Environmental Policy Act for major construction in the coastal and marine zones, as well as for changes to fisheries management regulations. The herring project I’ll be discussing is looking at the social impact assessments for Amendments 1-5 of the Herring Fishery Management Plan. We are exploring what “voices” are heard and whether the Social Impact Assessments accurately anticipate the impacts of regulatory change.

Seth Tuler, Social and Environmental Research Institute, Inc.

Improving Understandings of Consequences, Vulnerabilities, and Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change Related Hazards

Massachusetts's coastal communities are vulnerable to threats associated with climate change and they are also among the most significantly populated and economically important areas of the Commonwealth. Many coastal management decisions about adapting to climate change will be made at the local level. Hazard mitigation planning presents an opportunity to integrate climate change adaptation into an existing, routine local planning activity. In this project we are exploring how this can be achieved using a facilitated process to increase shared understandings of coastal hazards and climate-related impacts on coastal communities. We call this the Vulnerability and Consequences Adaptation Planning Scenarios (VCAPS) process. It couples structured discussion with an interactive computer-based diagramming program to help local officials, local staff, and stakeholders collectively design qualitative scenarios that depict potential impacts of climate stressors on their communities and highlight how public and private actors can ameliorate or exacerbate impacts. We have applied VCAPS in coastal communities in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. In this presentation we will discuss our ongoing research project in Massachusetts, including an overview of how climate change is currently being considered in hazard mitigation planning among the Commonwealth's coastal communities and our initial efforts implementing VCAPS as part of hazard mitigation planning in two cities.


The MIT Sea Grant Stakeholder Forums provide an opportunity for our funded researchers to present their research and current findings to their peers and the public. Audience members and other presenting researchers are encouraged to ask questions and engage in dialogue. The goal of the series is to promote peer-to-peer networking, to connect research to those who can benefit from and apply the findings of MIT Sea Grant funded research, and for MIT Sea Grant to receive input on outreach programs whose goal is to deliver economic, social, and environmental benefits.


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