Municipal harbor management plans are a means for communities to plan and manage uses in coastal waters to support waterfront land use plans and regulations. The goals are to integrate the community’s land and water use objectives, promote water dependent uses, minimize conflicts among competing users, coordinate multi-jurisdictional (state and municipal) decision-making, and protect coastal resources. Depending on the enabling authority, harbor management plans may cover just the water area and complement the community’s waterfront master plan or may include both the water and the adjacent land area. (Source: Coastal & Waterfront Smart Growth).
Gloucester, Massachusetts provides an excellent case study of a Harbor Management planning process that included substantial community engagement.
Summary: Gloucester Harbor (Massachusetts) is the center of one of the country’s most important commercial fishing communities; its docks are lined with vessels of various types and its waterfront is dominated by facilities and services associated with the seafood industry. In recent decades, as groundfish stocks have declined and management measures designed to rebuild the stocks have reduced the size and effort of the fleet, the infrastructure has deteriorated and businesses that depend on groundfish have struggled. City and state regulations effectively protect the waterfront for maritime industrial uses, but contraction of the fishing industry and consolidation of related shoreside infrastructure has left portions of the waterfront underutilized.