The NWWN has partnered with Urban Harbors Institute (UHI), an applied research institute within the School for the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Boston, focused on addressing ocean and coastal issues through research, policy, and planning. Through this partnership and with funding provided by the Walton Family Foundation, the NWWN and UHI have created an internship program that focuses on applied research to advance the resilience of commercial fishing communities.

The application deadline for graduate interns has passed. We will be running this internship again in the Fall of 2024, and once again be seeking out research proposals and graduate interns. 

This internship program is meant to foster partnerships between an academic institution and a community/industry partner both focused on the resilience of commercial fishing communities and in addition provide graduate students with the opportunity to conduct applied research on working waterfronts.

For sharing input or for questions, please reach out to 

To learn more about past internship research, please scroll down.

Past Research by NWWN Interns

Spring 2023

Three internships were awarded during the spring of 20223. See below for project descriptions.

Great Lakes Future Fishers Initiative Apprenticeship Program – Workforce Development

As with other coastal fisheries, the Great Lakes have had difficulties with the graying of the fleet, and recruiting and retaining quality employees. Wisconsin and Michigan Sea Grants have been working together on a project funded by NOAA Sea Grant’s Food from the Sea program. They have successfully reviewed existing apprenticeship programs and surveyed Great Lakes’ fishers to create a framework for a commercial fishing training program. The intern utilized results from the survey, which included workforce needs voiced by the industry, and further research to create a recruiting portfolio for reaching students (high school and community/technical colleges). The goal of this project was to highlight options for careers on the water that might not be well known and that provide a desirable lifestyle for the right people.

For a more in-depth look at the research and findings, read through the Story Map. 

Analysis of How to Reduce Bycatch in the Atlantic Monkfish Fishery through Use of Modified Large Mesh Sink-Gillnets 

In the mid-Atlantic and northeast U.S., Monkfish support a lucrative commercial fishery. This Monkfish gillnet fishery developed as an extension of the coast intercept fishery targeting Atlantic Sturgeon in the mid-1980s. Unfortunately, the burgeoning Monkfish fishery led to high levels of observed Atlantic Sturgeon bycatch (Stein et al. 2007, ASMFC 2007). Several studies, while limited in scope, suggest gillnet configuration plays an important role in the retention of Atlantic Sturgeon (Trencia et al. 2002, Sweka et al 2007, Fox et al. 2011, Fox et al. 2012, Fox et al. 2013, Fox et al. 2018, Hager et al. 2021). As part of this project, the intern assisted the development of a modified gillnet design and began work with commercial fishing partners who will be trialing the modified gillnets in real world conditions and providing feedback and bycatch data.

To learn about research methods and next steps, read the intern’s blog post. 

Gap Analysis and Policy Recommendations to Support Voluntary Emissions Reductions in the U.S. Commercial Fishing Fleet

This project in coordination with the Fishery Friendly Climate Action campaign and Shining Sea Fisheries Consulting LLC focused on energy resilience for the United State commercial fishing fleet. Exploring ways to reduce vessel diesel usage through energy conservation, efficient equipment, and alternative fuels can aid the commercial fishing fleet in energy efficiency and global efforts to combat climate change. However, there is no “one size fits all” solution that will work for the entire U.S. fishing fleet. The intern worked on a gap analysis to help address knowledge gaps such as what kinds of emissions reduction innovations are most appropriate and of greatest interest to U.S. fishers; current barriers that prevent deployment of these strategies, and tools that are needed to overcome these barriers, among other information. The intern collected data through conducting  interview with commercial fishing vessel owners.

To learn about research methods and next steps, read the intern’s blog post.

Spring 2022

Two internships were awarded during the spring of 2022 and the graduate interns presented their findings at the NWWN 2022 conference in Boston, MA in July. See below for project descriptions and results:

Understanding Shoreside Infrastructure Challenges in the Massachusetts Summertime Fluke Fishery

Massachusetts has a robust summertime commercial fluke fishery in the waters south of Cape Cod, primarily Nantucket Sound. Despite a sustainable resource and a significant increase in the available quota, landings have nearly halved over the past 10 years, declining from over 700,000 lbs. in 2010 to less than 400,000 lbs. on average since 2017. The number of active permit holders has steadily decreased over the same period, with only about 25 boats remaining active in the dragger fleet. It is unclear if this is the result of policy changes or increased competition for port infrastructure from competing user groups on the waterfront. This study sheds light on the causes of declining participation using a combination of research methods, including a web survey of commercial fluke permit holders, individual and group interviews, and analysis of infrastructure changes at critical ports on Nantucket Sound.

For a more in-depth look at this research and the results check out this ArcGIS Story Map

Assessing Marine Industry Compliance in the Crabber-Towboat Agreement, West Coast

The coastal commercial Dungeness crab fishery and the tug/towboat industries occupy similar areas of coastal waters for daily and seasonal uses. Because of this overlap in shared space, conflicts have arisen as tug/towboats occasionally run over and decimate set crab pots. Not only does this incident result in lost commercial catch for crab fishers, but the tug/towboat industries must also pay workers to clear affected boat props of crab gear. To mitigate this conflict and potential financial loss for both industries, the Crabber-Towboat Lane Agreement was created in 1971 as an informal, non-regulatory agreement between the two industries. The agreement designates towlanes in which tug/towboats must travel within and in return, crab fishers agree to set pots outside of these lanes. With good compliance, the Crabber-Towboat Lane Agreement is an example of outstanding, efficient, and progressive cooperation to increase the resiliency of the commercial crab fishery and tug/towboat industry. However, up until now compliance with the agreement has yet to be evaluated. To explore the success of the agreement we synthesized large geospatial datasets on vessel traffic along with the latest lane boundaries established in 2019 to create an interactive map where tug/towboat traffic and towlanes are visible simultaneously. This information shows the success of the lane agreement to West Coast Ocean users and promotes the collaborative nature of fishing communities and working waterfronts.

For a more in-depth look at this research and the results check out the website for the Crabber-Towboat Lane Agreement hosted by Washington Sea Grant and the Crabber-Towboat Lane Interactive Map.

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