The Center for Ocean Policy and Economics - COPE°

What is COPE°?

The Center for Ocean Policy and Economics (COPE°) is a pioneering institution nestled within the Northeast Maritime Institute – College of Maritime Science. With a vast number of ocean-related challenges, some of which are often referred to as “wicked problems” due to their complexity and interdependent nature, there was a pressing need for a dedicated body to address these issues in a holistic manner. COPE° emerged as the beacon of hope in this regard.

The establishment of COPE° is not a sudden epiphany but a meticulous progression of years of rigorous research. The Center’s foundation lies in the countless conversations held with some of the most distinguished experts in the maritime and ocean-related domains. These dialogues not only highlighted the intricacies of the oceanic challenges but also underscored the necessity of interdisciplinary collaboration to pave the way for sustainable solutions.

At its core, COPE° functions as more than just a research institution; it serves as a facilitator. Recognizing the need to bridge the gap between various sectors, the Center plays a pivotal role in integrating perspectives from academia, the corporate world, non-governmental organizations, and governmental bodies. Such a collaborative approach ensures that policies and economic initiatives are not formulated in isolation but are a reflection of collective expertise and vision.

In essence, COPE° is not just an academic institution or a research center. It stands as a consortium – a meeting ground where diverse minds come together with a shared purpose – to devise impactful, practical, and far-reaching solutions for the maritime and ocean challenges of today and tomorrow. Through its initiatives, COPE° aspires to reshape the narrative surrounding ocean policy and economic development, ensuring that our oceans remain a sustainable and thriving asset for generations to come.

Mission Statement

The Center for Ocean Policy and Economics shall be held to an enduring mission: to make pivotal policy, intellectual, ethical, moral and financial investments for the commercialization of breakthrough best practices in maritime commerce, ocean science and technologies for the implementation of sound ocean policy and responsible exploration and sustainable ocean ecology that focuses on the balancing of mitigating and reversing negative climate trends, creation of environmentally sustainable jobs and ocean regulatory regimes while ensuring that people can live, work and integrate on, in and near oceans, estuaries and rivers through sustainable practices.

Where are the "Wicked Problems?"

COPE° Working Groups are dedicated to proactively confronting and navigating the intricate “wicked problems” that arise in the vast domain of our oceans. The groups are made up of dedicated volunteers from all backgrounds: private individuals, academics, NGOs, private and public companies, governmental agencies, and more. 
By promoting collaboration and shared vision, these groups are fostering solutions across a spectrum of essential areas:

Maritime Trade & Commerce

COPE° strives to streamline maritime operations, ensuring that trade is conducted in a manner that is both economically viable and environmentally responsible. By optimizing routes, promoting fair trade practices, and leveraging technology, they aim to reshape maritime commerce for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Ocean Ecology

Recognizing the delicate balance of marine ecosystems, COPE° works diligently to study, protect, and restore the ocean’s biodiversity. By collaborating with marine biologists, conservationists, and local communities, they aim to design sustainable fishing practices, combat pollution, and protect endangered marine species.

Maritime and Ocean Innovation & Technology

COPE° champions the integration of cutting-edge technology and innovative methodologies in maritime activities. From advanced navigation systems to deep-sea exploration technologies, COPE° drives initiatives that harness the power of innovation to protect and harness the potential of our oceans.

Diplomacy & Foreign Affairs

Understanding the shared responsibility of ocean stewardship, COPE° facilitates dialogue and cooperation among nations and peoples. By fostering diplomatic and other international relationships, COPE° seeks to create a unified approach to maritime governance, dispute resolution, and shared oceanic resources.

Energy & Sustainability

COPE° is at the forefront of promoting sustainable energy sources and practices within maritime activities. By advocating for renewable marine energy and efficient ship propulsion systems, COPE° aims to reduce the carbon footprint of maritime operations and to champion sustainability.

Maritime Economic Development

COPE° actively supports the growth and diversification of ocean-based economies. By partnering with communities, governments, and industry, COPE° helps nurture sectors such as eco-tourism, sustainable fishing, and marine biotechnology. 

With a forward-looking approach, including solving “Wicked Problems,” COPE° is not just identifying problems but is actively paving the way for solutions that promise a harmonious and sustainable relationship with our oceans.

The COPE° Mindset

Connection, Communication, and Sharing 

Our world thrives on diversity. Its strength lies in understanding and embracing different perspectives. COPE° recognizes the power of collective insight and champions a community where every voice, irrespective of its origin, finds a listening ear. By transcending traditional boundaries and advocating for inclusivity, COPE° is shaping an environment where every stakeholder, regardless of identity, background, or belief, is welcomed and valued. 

Why the Ocean?

The vast expanse of our oceans, with their profound depths and sprawling reaches, epitomizes a powerful truth: the ocean knows no borders. This reality underscores the interconnectedness of our world and binds us in shared responsibility and destiny.

The planet’s waters are an essential component of our existence. From the macro perspective, oceans dictate global weather patterns, shaping climates and influencing environmental phenomena. On a micro scale, they enable the tiniest of organisms to thrive, driving the intricate web of life. This interplay of large and small illuminates the indispensability of our oceans, emphasizing their critical value that warrants steadfast protection.

Global trade, historically centered around maritime shipping, has been a linchpin of economic growth. Maritime trade has been connected to nearly every kind of human interaction from the most negative (colonization, the slave trade, etc.) to the most positive (human development, wellbeing, enjoyment, knowledge preservation and propagation, peacemaking, spreading prosperity, etc.). Maritime pathways, largely unhindered by territorial borders, were central in sculpting our modern societies. An intricate maritime network seamlessly traverses national boundaries and underscores global progress and key elements of our shared future.

The introduction of containerized shipping around 1956 heralded a new era in global interconnectivity. It magnified the opportunities for collective growth and wealth dissemination but also, paradoxically, paved the way for exploitation and unequal resource allocation.

Crucially, the structures underpinning our maritime-driven global supply chains are not fixed entities. They are not dictated by immutable natural laws but are instead manifestations of deliberate human choices. The phrase “The ocean knows no borders” serves as a poignant reminder of this. It emphasizes that our actions in one part of the world can resonate around the planet, affecting distant ecosystems and communities. Thus, our collective choices – whether as individuals, leaders, or consumers – shape these structures. The manner in which we govern, influence, and adapt our maritime and global frameworks is a testament to our collective vision and values.

In navigating the future, we must anchor our endeavors in the paramount principle of “The ocean knows no borders,” ensuring that sustainability, mutual respect, and global unity are at the heart of all initiatives.

Guiding Principles








Human Empowerment