Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2019

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Resource Economics and Policy


Keith S. Evans

Second Committee Member

Caroline L. Noblet

Third Committee Member

Kate Beard-Tisdale

Additional Committee Members

Kofi Britwum


The growing global population, combined with increased land use, has emphasized the demand for sustainable ocean management strategies. Among suggestions for these strategies is a closer examination of the visual impact that aquaculture sites may have on coastal homes, as well as perception and preferences on coastal issues including coastal hazards, impacts of development, and marine debris. Maine’s unique and extensive history, as well as geographic location makes it an ideal setting to study these vital coastal issues, as well as to assist decision makers with informed options for management and policy.

This research explores various coastal usages and issues to determine what role visual impacts and perceptions may play on coastal communities in Maine. Empirical methods utilized include 1) viewshed analysis and semi-log hedonic pricing framework in order to capture information regarding impact that view of marine aquaculture may have on coastal home prices; and 2) various survey instruments such as frequencies, cross tabulation, factor analysis, and logistic regression to explore perceptions concerning ocean and coastal priority areas; to determine what housing, demographic, and social characteristics may be associated with different levels of awareness of policy-relevant knowledge; and to investigate the relationship between perception of and preference for Maine coastal and ocean issues.

Results from our spatially fixed semi-log hedonic pricing model suggest that visibility of aquaculture may have mixed impacts on coastal housing markets depending on geographic region, as well as how view of aquaculture enters our models. For Casco Bay, visibility of aquaculture shows no statistically significant impacts in our base model and alternate model 2 and positive impacts in alternate model 1 (entering the model as an aquaculture view dummy indicator). Damariscotta also shows no statistically significant effects in base model and alternate model 2, while conveying positive effects on housing prices in alternate model 1. View of aquaculture conveys no statistically significant effects in Penobscot Bay in base model or alternate model 1, but conveys positive and significant effects in alternate model 2. Additionally, we find that omission of visibility may lead to omitted variable bias. These results also suggest that we may be missing additional indicators associated with aquaculture (noise, smell, etc.). The research completed from our models is a critical step towards the end objective to inform policy makers and stakeholders of social costs related to future site selection for sustainable marine aquaculture.

Results from our survey data suggest that participating Maine coastal citizens who agreed or strongly agreed with the perceived statements regarding current ocean and coastal conditions prioritized these areas as outlined in the Maine Coastal Program. Additionally, certain situational factors such as trust in science, belief in climate change, and perception of ocean health may be important predictors of knowledge and preferences. Overall, we find that participants who have an awareness in the situational factors listed above are more likely to support coastal zone priority areas enacted by the Maine Coastal Plan that promote effective marine planning and protection.