Impacts of West Coast moorage marinas

The Environmental and Economic Impacts of Moorage Marinas on the West Coast 

Regional researchers are calculating the wide range of economic and environmental impacts associated with moorage marinas in Washington and Southern California. Results will provide more reliable coastal development strategies for moorage marina policies.

Principal Investigator

Christine Bae (Washington Lead), University of Washington, Urban Design and Planning

Co-Principal Investigators

James Moore (Regional Lead), University of Southern California

Jiyoung Park, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Nathaniel Trumbull, University of Connecticut


Recreational marinas are growing rapidly on the West Coast, but they fall outside the usual planning, economic, and environmental research disciplines. An interdisciplinary research team will calculate the net economic impacts of moorage marinas in Southern California and Western Washington. It will also investigate the environmental externalities, using geographic information systems to correlate marina locations and NOAA Mussel Watch data on pollution and other impacts dating back to 1986. These economic and environmental impacts can then be compared for baseline and alternative scenarios, helping regulators and coastal communities develop prudent, informed marina policies.

Research Updates

Sea Grant programs at University of Southern California and in Washington funded an investigation on the impacts of marinas in Southern California and Washington State. The research team compiled data from a range of existing sources to support identification by managers and marina operators of cost-effective measures for maximizing environmental protections. The team evaluated a multiregional input–output (MRIO) model using IMPLAN® data sources for economic gains, although economic costs have not yet been factored in. The model is also being used to assess environmental impacts. Because environmental data are scarce, the team is using existing monitoring programs to attach costs at each marina.

The team reviewed existing data and created the MRIO model. The economic gain from marina activities in Southern California for 2014 was $2.9 billion and the total economic impact was $4.6 billion. By contrast, the direct economic impact of Washington marina activity was far greater at $5 billion with a total economic impact of $8.1 billion. The final step of including economic costs will ensure a balanced picture.