NWWN Research Internship Program

The National Working Waterfront Network (NWWN) is a national collective of individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, higher academia, Sea Grant programs, local governments, communities and state and federal agencies. Together, these entities work to strengthen and protect working waterfronts across the United States. 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.

Who can apply?

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.

If you would like to learn more or are interested in applying please review the Request for Proposals. 

Note: This is a call for an applied research project/idea and the call for interns will come in December after a project is chosen.

Past Research by NWWN Interns

Two internships were awarded during the spring of 2022 and the graduate interns presented their findings at the NWWN 2022 conference in Boston, MA. 

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.