2012 NE Recreational Boater Survey

The 2012 Northeast Recreational Boater Survey collected spatial and economic data on marine recreational boating in the Northeast during the 2012 boating season.



Understanding when and where the various uses of the ocean occur is critical to minimizing conflicts among user groups, fostering economic vitality, achieving sustainable ocean use and ensuring the marine environment can be enjoyed for years to come. To help fill this gap in information, SeaPlan, the Northeast Regional Ocean Council, First Coast Guard District, state coastal programs, marine trades associations and others conducted the 2012 Northeast Recreational Boater Survey.

Building off the 2010 Massachusetts Recreational Boater Survey, we used a similar methodology to collect detailed spatial and economic information on recreational marine boating throughout the Northeast, including federal and state waters of ME, NH, MA, RI, CT and NY. From a list of nearly 374,000 boaters, SeaPlan invited a representative random sample of about 68,000 boaters in the Northeast to participate. Survey participants provided detailed information that allowed the team to characterize the industry’s economic impact and create maps of important areas to recreational boaters.

The survey provides powerful information for coastal planners, the boating industry, and society that demonstrates the contribution of recreational boating to the region’s economy. The information can be used to help industry and planners work together to encourage compatibilities among overlapping ocean uses and assist industry planning. This work is also an excellent example of coupling social science research methods with stakeholder-informed data collection and analysis to provide data products that address governmental and industry needs.

The survey was conducted through a partnership among the boating industry, government and non-governmental organizations. This partnership was involved in all phases of the project, from developing the methodology to reviewing preliminary results, and included SeaPlan, the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), First Coast Guard District, Maine Coastal Program, Maine Marine Trades Association, The New Hampshire Coastal Program at the N.H. Department of Environmental Services, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, Connecticut Marine Trades Association, and New York Department of State. In addition, several businesses participated as sponsors, including Grady-White, US Harbors, and Marina Bay of Boston Harbor.

The Project Summary (containing a summary of the project and results) and State Summary fact sheets (containing results specific to each state) can be downloaded to the right. A Technical Report (containing details on the methodology and the full suite of results) will be available in December.

Learn more from the Marine Recreational Boating project page. 

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