State of the Beach/State Reports/MA/Beach Description

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Massachusetts Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access83
Water Quality75
Beach Erosion9-
Erosion Response-8
Beach Fill6-
Shoreline Structures9 3
Beach Ecology6-
Surfing Areas25
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}


Massachusetts' 1,500 miles of coastline are a rich and diverse fabric of natural wonders. Situated at the edge of where the last major glacier covered parts of North America, the Massachusetts shoreline has an extremely varied orientation, as well as diverse and spectacular geologic landforms.

Contact Info for the Lead Coastal Zone Management Agency

Massachusetts Executive Office of Coastal Affairs
Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
Bruce Carlisle, Director
251 Causeway Street, Suite 800
Boston, MA 02114-2119
Phone: (617) 626-1200

Coastal Zone Management Program

Massachusetts' coastal program is implemented through several agencies within the Executive Office of Coastal Affairs. The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (MCZM) serves as the lead policy and technical assistance agency. Their mission is to balance the impacts of human activity with the protection of coastal and marine resources. As a networked program, MCZM was specifically established to work with other state agencies, federal agencies, local governments, academic institutions, nonprofit groups, and the general public to promote sound management of the Massachusetts coast. MCZM brings together a small, dedicated staff of technical specialists in marine sciences, policy, law, and public outreach, along with regional coordinators who serve as liaisons to communities and local organizations. MCZM is an effective state-federal partnership with strong links to local governments.

The Coastal Zone Assessment and Strategy guides CZM’s efforts to enhance the management of the following program areas: Wetlands, Public Access, Coastal Hazards, Cumulative and Secondary Impacts, Energy and Government Facility Siting, Marine Debris, Ocean Resources, Special Area Management, and Aquaculture. State Coastal Zone Management Programs are required to review progress in these areas every five years, and update and develop new strategies as appropriate.

Many different interests compete for the use of coastal resources. Massachusetts' coastal program must balance the competing demands of dredging and dredge material disposal, coastal erosion, runoff pollution, public access, ocean resource management, port revitalization, and harbor planning. The state's major industries of tourism, fishing, shipping, and aquaculture make the coast vital to the state's economy.

NOAA's latest evaluation of Massachusetts' Coastal Management Program can be found here. A planning document produced by the Coastal Management Program is Section 309 Assessment and Five-Year Strategy for CZM Program Enhancement (FY2011-2015) dated October 29, 2010.

Yearly summaries of Massachusetts CZM activities can be found here.


  1. Bernd-Cohen, T. and M. Gordon. "State Coastal Program Effectiveness in Protecting Natural Beaches, Dunes, Bluffs, and Rock Shores." Coastal Management 27:187-217, 1999.
  2. Bernd-Cohen, T. and M. Gordon. "State Coastal Program Effectiveness in Protecting Natural Beaches, Dunes, Bluffs, and Rock Shores." Coastal Management 27:187-217. 1999.

State of the Beach Report: Massachusetts
Massachusetts Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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