The MVC’s Coastal Management program deals with both water resource areas and the land with access to those waters. It includes planning and regulatory functions designed to promote appropriate activities, to ensure adequate space and resources for those uses, to foster good cooperation and good stewardship of coastal resources, and to respect the sensitive environmental concerns found where the land meets the water.
Planning functions begin with research by the Commission's professional staff, funded by various external sources. The data is then used for policy development for resource management, most often by the towns to develop standards, policies and regulations. The Commission provides assistance to the towns in preparation of open space plans, harbor plans, and other policy documents to manage the coastal resources of each town and the resources shared between towns.
One of the most important regulatory tools is the Coastal District DCPC one of the original DCPCs, designated in the MVC's early years. The Coastal District encompasses coastal resources of the entire Island, protecting resources such as water quality and vistas. The Commission reviews a number of individual developments in coastal resource areas as Developments of Regional Impact (DRIs). Also, Commission staff reviews and comments on other projects, participating in the Commonwealth's MEPA and DEP Waterways licensing processes.