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 research to advance the resilience of commercial fishing communities.

Intended as a pilot, this internship program will be managed through UHI at UMass Boston and will provide two internships during the winter/spring of 2022.  Successful proposals will be those developed and guided jointly by university faculty/staff and community/industry partners, with research conducted by a graduate student intern. The intern will work closely with the selected partner, faculty member and UHI internship coordinator throughout the duration of the internship.

The budget for each internship is $5,000 and will be used to cover student salary and travel to the July 2022 NWWN conference in Boston in July 2022. The student will be paid directly through the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Research Opportunity

Working waterfronts are not only an integral component of the national economy and well-being but of local coastal communities and their cultural heritage (Ebbin & Trumbull, 2021). The unique appearances and water-dependent activities of working waterfronts from the East Coast to the West Coast to the Gulf Coast and along the Great Lakes is evidence of their diversity. Of those working waterfront industries, commercial fisheries alone are a major contributor to coastal livelihoods. In 2016, commercial fishing generated $144 billion in total sales, $40 billion in income and approximately one million jobs nationwide (National Marine Fisheries Service, 2018). In addition to the monetary value of commercial fishing, these communities have a strong place identity and rich heritage inherently adding to the social fabric and cultural value of many working waterfronts. Therefore, the resilience of commercial fishing communities is one crucial aspect to the growth and preservation of many diverse working waterfronts.

However, these waterfronts share common struggles in the face of ageing infrastructure, shifting regulations, competing uses, environmental protections, and climate change (Island Institute et al., 2013). These waterfronts also have opportunities such as new federal funding for waterfront improvements, planning initiatives for enhanced infrastructure, and increased interest in locally sourced and sustainable food. Thus, the NWWN and UHI are seeking research project proposals that advance the resiliency of commercial fishing communities in the context of working waterfronts. This “resilience” can be related to a variety of factors including economic development, climate change planning, workforce development, pandemic response, and other topics impacting the viability of commercial fishing communities. This research should NOT focus on federal, state, or municipal fishing regulations and on aquaculture fisheries.

Eligible Applicants

The opportunity to submit a proposal is open to any for-profit, non-profit, academic, NGO or government organization with offices in the United States. NWWN membership is not a requirement for eligibility. The graduate student must be eligible to work in the United States.

The NWWN and UHI are dedicated to practicing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the cultivation of partnerships. We encourage proposals that remove barriers for interns to become part of the next generation of coastal leaders and are committed to allowing all interns to be comfortable in their identities and participate fully in their research.

Requirements of Participants

Participants MUST include (1) an academic partner (e.g., faculty or staff), (2) a graduate student, and (3) a community/industry partner. The academic partner cannot also be the community/industry partner.

The participants must be willing to:

  • Participate in meetings with the UHI internship coordinator
  • Provide supervision and mentorship to the graduate student
  • Share the results of the research project at the July 2022 NWWN Conference in Boston, MA and through other means (e.g., the NWWN website and listserv)

Evaluation process and criteria

Submitted proposals will be reviewed by a panel of members from the NWWN for:

  • The project’s methodology and timeline consistent with NWWNs proposal requirements
  • The applicability of the research to promoting resilient commercial fishing communities in the context of working waterfronts
  • The proposer’s agreement to participate fully, provide supervision to the intern, and allow results to be shared at the July 2022 NWWN Conference and on NWWNs website

Contact information for questions

Interested parties may contact Shannon Hogan (internship coordinator) of UHI, at with any questions or concerns regarding the internship program.

Proposal requirements

Applicants must submit a single-spaced, two-page research project proposal (in size 11 font or larger) by January 12, 2022, to Shannon Hogan at the email listed above.

The proposal must include:

  1. The contact information (names, titles, affiliations, email addresses, phone numbers, and mailing addresses) for the lead academic partner and the lead community/industry partner
  2. An explanation of the significance of the proposed research question, specifically addressing how this research question will promote the resilience of commercial fishing communities in the context of working waterfronts.
  3. A description of the research methodology and timeline
  4. A description of the final deliverable(s) and how it/they will be shared
  5. A description of how the academic partner and the community/industry partner will work together to support the graduate student, identifying who will act as the mentor and who will act as the supervisor, including details of how each will assist the graduate student.
  6. Resumes, not exceeding two-pages, of the lead academic partner and the lead community/industry partner (not counted toward the two-page page limit of the proposal). If the graduate student has already been identified, please include that person’s contact information and resume as well.


Colburn, L. L., Jepson, M., Weng, C., Seara, T., Weiss, J., & Hare, J. A. (2016). Indicators of climate change and social vulnerability in fishing dependent communities along the Eastern and Gulf Coasts of the United States. Marine Policy, 74, 323–333.

Ebbin, S. A., & Trumbull, N. (2021). Contested Spaces in the New Blue Economy: Competing for Connecticut’s Thames River Working Waterfront. Geographical Journal, (August), 1–14.

Island Institute, Maine Sea Grant, National Sea Grant Law Center, Coastal Enterprises, I., Florida Sea Grant, Virginia Sea Grant, & Urban Harbors Institute at University of Massachusettes Boston. (2013). Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit. Final Report. 36pp. Retrieved from

National Marine Fisheries. (2018). Fisheries Economics of the US, 2016. (December), 249. Retrieved from

National Working Waterfront Network. (2016). What we do. Retrieved from

Urban Harbors Institute. (2021). Advancing Ocean and Coastal Management. Retrieved from

Walton Family Foundation. (2021). Mission and Vision. Retrieved from