Archive for the ‘Penobscot County’ Category

Steneck: Understanding Species Interactions Key to Fisheries Management

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

University of Maine marine scientist Bob Steneck participated in a Florida State University-led study that recommends a paradigm shift for fisheries science and management.

The study spearheaded by FSU biology professor Joe Travis advocates that fisheries experts and managers consider how overfishing and environmental changes disrupt species interactions and alter ecosystems, including pushing some ecosystems past their tipping points.

“In order to succeed, fisheries management must focus on species interactions,” says Steneck, a professor based at UMaine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole.

Historically, Steneck says, fisheries science has focused on population dynamics, sustainable yields and influences of biological and oceanographic processes on fisheries.

“By incorporating a more ecological approach, we argue that managers can better understand the dynamics of a fishery, and which species interactions, if affected, can push the ecosystems that house a fishery past its tipping point,” he says.

The loss of one major species from an ecosystem can have severe and unintended consequences because of the connections between that species and others in the system. These changes often occur rapidly and unexpectedly and are difficult to reverse, say the researchers.

“You don’t realize how interdependent species are until it all unravels,” says study co-author Felicia Coleman, director of Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.

One case study looks at the collapse of sardine and anchovy stocks — partially as a result of overfishing — in the 1970s in the Northern Benguela ecosystem off Namibia. Subsequently, the far less calorie-rich bearded goby and jellyfish flourished. African penguins and gannets that had preyed on energy-rich sardines and anchovies, have suffered, say the researchers. African penguins and gannets have declined by 77 percent and 94 percent, respectively.

In addition, Cape hake and deep-water hake production plummeted from 725,000 metric tons in 1972 to 110,000 metric tons in 1990, say the researchers, and the population of Cape fur seals has dramatically fluctuated.

In Europe, Steneck points to the Atlantic cod stock’s seeming inability to rebound from overfishing. Currently, the cod’s former prey, a small fish called sprat, has become hyperabundant to the point that it preys on larval cod.

Closer to home, the decimation of cod and other large predatory species also resulted in a proliferation of sea urchins. In the late 1980s, a sea urchin fishery subsequently developed and boomed, but by the mid- to late-1990s, overfishing had decimated that industry.

With sea urchin stocks depleted, the macroalgae eaten by sea urchins increased substantially. This, in turn, created an ideal habitat for crabs, which are major predators of sea urchins.

In the same ecosystem, Steneck says declines in soft-shell clams are due to an explosion of non-native green crabs. “All of these examples result from strong ecological interactions that are not captured in most fisheries management models,” he says.

While it’s easy to write off one such case study, Travis says taken all together, the paper is a compelling case that “tipping points are real, we’ve crossed them in many ecosystems, and we’ll cross more of them unless we can get this problem under control.”

Steneck agrees. “Our paper provides case studies from all over the world illustrating how a chain of events taken with an appreciation for species interactions can contribute to complex problems in fisheries management,” he says.

The study, titled “Integrating the invisible fabric of nature into fisheries management,” was published in the Dec. 23, 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Travis and Coleman say they hope the research accelerates changes in how fisheries scientists approach ecosystem problems and how fisheries managers integrate system issues into their efforts.

The researchers recommend that more effort be devoted to understanding links between species that set up tipping points in ecosystems and they advised managers be cognizant of data that indicates when a system could be approaching its tipping point.

“It’s a lot easier to back up to avoid a tipping point before you get to it than it is to find a way to return once you’ve crossed it,” Travis says.

Fishing experts generally understand how overfishing affects other species and the ecosystem as a whole but it “needs to be a bigger part of the conversation and turned into action,” Coleman says.

Seven other scientists from the University of Connecticut, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Santa Cruz, University of Chicago, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Centre de Recherche Halieutique Méditerranéenne et Tropicale in France participated in the study.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

2014 Camden Conference, UMaine Course to Focus on Global Politics of Food, Water

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

“The Global Politics of Food and Water” will be the theme of the 2014 Camden Conference and accompanying course offered by the University of Maine’s Division of Lifelong Learning.

The 27th annual Camden Conference will take place Feb. 21–23 in Camden and will also be part of a three-credit UMaine course with classes on Saturday, Jan. 25, March 22 and April 12.

The conference and course will explore water and food security topics from many perspectives around the world as they relate to human life, global climate change and relationships between countries.

The course will be taught by UMaine faculty G. Paul Holman, Libra Professor of International Affairs; Timothy Cole, an associate professor of political science and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Capt. James Settele, director of the School of Policy and International Affairs. Guest lecturers will also be featured.

To receive credit, students in the course must attend all three sessions and the three-day conference in Camden or at satellite broadcast venues at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast or the Strand Theatre in Rockland.

Frederick Kirschenmann, a distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and president of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., will be the conference’s keynote speaker. Andreas Merkl, president and CEO of Ocean Conservancy, will be the featured speaker.

The Camden Conference was founded in 1987 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that aims to foster education and discussion on world issues.

More information about the 2014 Camden Conference is available online. More information about the accompanying UMaine course is available by calling Marlene Charron at 207.581.4095 or visiting the Division of Lifelong Learning’s website.

UMaine Nursing Student Presentation Cited in BDN Article

Monday, December 16th, 2013

A presentation made by University of Maine nursing students at a Veazie town council meeting was cited in the Bangor Daily News article “Orono-Veazie Water District consumers raise concerns about potential carcinogen.” The students presented on the health effects of trihalomethanes (THMs), which are formed when chlorine and other disinfectants are mixed with organic matter, after residents showed concern over chemicals in their water. The students said exposure can lead to an increased risk of bladder, colon and rectal cancer. UMaine also released a statement about its water, saying the university “has been in contact with the Orono-Veazie Water District and is aware that it is currently in compliance for 2013.”

Boston Fire Chief Talks to First Responders at UMaine, WVII Reports

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Dennis Costin, a special operations chief for the Boston Fire Department, visited the University of Maine to speak to first responders and town officials about emergency preparedness and lessons learned from the Boston Marathon bombings, according to WVII (Channel 7). The event was hosted by Speciality Response Solutions.

A Sign of Blue Sky Progress

Friday, December 13th, 2013

The UMaine Community is proud to unveil three new University of Maine entrance signs installed this week at the three points of entry of the University of Maine. This installation is a significant event under the UMaine Blue Sky Project Branding Initiative and the Paint, Polish and Plant Initiative of Pathway 3: Embracing a Culture of Excellence: Promoting Spirit, Community and Collaboration and Pathway 5: Restoring the Dream: Renewing Pride and Stewardship of Place. The signs, replacing the nearly 20-year-old University of Maine signs, were designed by UMaine’s Division of Marketing and Communications and were paid for by the Thayer Fund for Campus Excellence, a private gift endowment fund.

University Singers to Perform at Bangor Mall, Starbucks

Friday, December 13th, 2013

The University of Maine School of Performing Arts’ University Singers will perform at two Bangor retail locations on Saturday and Sunday Dec. 14–15. The group will sing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at J.C. Penney court in the Bangor Mall and 1–2 p.m. at Starbucks.

Members of the choir come from a variety of academic disciplines. Under the direction of Dennis Cox, the singers annually perform at multiple concerts on campus, tour New England for a week each spring and perform abroad every four years.

Carneys Win Second Big Gig Pitch-Off

Friday, December 13th, 2013

University of Maine students and married couple John Carney and Christine Carney won the Big Gig’s second pitch-off for their promotion of their business, Through Thick and Thin, which offers quirky acrylic cupcake toppers, jewelry and ornaments.

Three businesses had been selected to pitch their products or companies to a panel of judges at the event at Kosta’s Bar and Grill in Old Town.

The winners received $100 and an invitation to compete for a $1,000 grand prize in the Big Gig Finale in April.

The Big Gig is designed to bring together Bangor-Orono area innovators and entrepreneurs and offer networking opportunities. It was started by a partnership between the University of Maine, Old Town, Orono and Husson University and is supported by Blackstone Accelerates Growth.

Sarah Newcomb, a doctoral student in behavioral economics at UMaine and research assistant at UMaine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, won the Big Gig’s first pitch-off event in October with “Who’s Your Daddy?” — a phone app she developed that allows shoppers to scan products to learn more about its parent company.

More about the Carneys and how UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation helped get their company off the ground is online.

New Director of UMaine’s Aquaculture Research Institute Named

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Vice President for Research Carol Kim recently appointed Paul Anderson as the new director of the Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI) at the University of Maine. ARI is a statewide resource for research, faculty expertise and facilities dedicated to informing the development of sustainable aquaculture.

In Maine, marine aquaculture includes salmon, oysters, mussels and seaweeds with a growing interest in other species of both finfish and shellfish. There is also a small amount of freshwater aquaculture used to raise bait fish and other species.

Since 2001, Anderson has directed the Maine Sea Grant College Program, another one of UMaine’s research centers overseen by Kim. He will continue in that capacity. “Paul has tremendous leadership skills,” said Kim, explaining that the ARI is an important asset to the developing aquaculture industry in Maine, “I expect successful results as he takes the helm.”

During this two-year appointment as ARI director, which began December 1, 2013, Anderson will oversee a strategic planning effort, an external review of the institute, and will work to align the faculty, student and facilities that are involved in aquaculture-related research towards common goals. “This is an important time in the evolution of aquaculture in the world and strong science is needed to help ensure that aquaculture is integrated in the working waterfront and into the food systems in an ecologically sustainable manner,” Anderson said.

A UMaine alumnus, Anderson served as the extension leader at Maine Sea Grant before becoming its director. From 1989–1999, he worked for the Maine Department of Marine Resources where he directed the Public Health Division overseeing all aspects of seafood safety. In 2003, he chaired the Governor’s Task Force on the Planning and Development of Marine Aquaculture in Maine.

UMaine has aquaculture research facilities at three locations in the state: the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin; the research laboratory at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, and the Aquaculture Research Center in Orono.

Maine Edge Previews Oratorio Society Concert Dedicated to Sandy Hook Victims

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

The Maine Edge advanced the University of Maine School of Performing Arts’ presentation of “Ein deutsches Requiem” by Johannes Brahms on Dec. 15 in Hampden. The Oratorio Society, along with the University Orchestra, are dedicating the performance to the memory of victims of the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

WVII Covers Second Big Gig Pitch-Off Event

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

WVII (Channel 7) reported on the second pitch-off event for the Big Gig, a program designed to bring together innovators and entrepreneurs in the Bangor-Orono area and offer networking opportunities. The Big Gig was started by a partnership between the University of Maine, Old Town, Orono, and Husson University and is supported by Blackstone Accelerates Growth. Three groups were selected to pitch their products or companies to a panel of judges at the event. UMaine students John and Christine Carney won for their pitch of their business Through Thick and Thin that offers quirky acrylic cupcake toppers, jewelry and ornaments.