Ways in which commercial fishermen, aquaculturists and those in the tourism industry can work together to create greater economic success will be the focus of three workshops offered by Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension in partnership with the Lobster Institute, Island Institute and Maine Aquaculture Association.
The Fisheries, Aquaculture and Tourism workshops will take place 5–8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the UMaine Hutchinson Center in Belfast; 5–8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 at Machias Savings Bank Community Room in Machias; and 1–4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 at University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Building in Portland.
Anyone involved in the fisheries, aquaculture or tourism industry or related support organizations is invited to attend any of the free workshops. Sessions will include information from guest speakers on topics such as the legal issues pertaining to offering boat or farm tours and ways seafood producers can enhance their businesses by building relationships with tour operators, restaurant owners and innkeepers.
“The workshops are intended to respond to the need for information expressed by fishermen and aquaculture farmers who seek to diversify their earnings by tapping into the tourism market by offering activities such as lobster boat tours or fish farm tours,” says Natalie Springuel, a marine extension associate with Maine Sea Grant. “Likewise, these workshops respond to the growing interest in the tourism industry to provide customers with fisheries and fish-farming-related experiences.”
Scott Gunst, an attorney with the admiralty and maritime law practice Reeves McEwing LLP in Philadelphia, Pa., will present at each session. Other guest speakers will vary depending on location. They will include fishermen and/or aquaculture farmers who will talk about their businesses, as well as members of the tourism industry who will share opportunities for marketing and partnerships.
The workshops will include an information session about the legal framework of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism, followed by interactive conversations with those who work in the field and a question-and-answer period with representatives of related resources, including the United States Coast Guard, insurance companies and the host organizations.
Pizza will be offered at the Belfast and Machias sessions and snacks will be provided at the Portland workshop.
This is the second time this workshop series has been offered. The first was offered at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum in Rockland in February 2013.
A registration form and more information, such as fact sheets and legal research produced for the series, are available on the Maine Sea Grant’s website. Registration is required.
The Maine Sea Grant college program at UMaine is one of 33 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs throughout the coastal and Great Lakes states and is focused on improving Maine’s coastal communities. The University of Maine Marine Extension Team (MET), is a collaboration of Maine Sea Grant and UMaine Extension, that provides educational and applied research programs in coastal community development, ecosystem health, fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.
The University Volunteer Ambulance Corps (UVAC) at the University of Maine was named the 2013 Region 4 EMS Service of the Year by the Atlantic Partners EMS.
The announcement was made earlier this month during the 33rd annual seminar of Atlantic Partners EMS, an organization that consists of providers in three of the state’s six EMS regions.
The seminar honors members of the emergency medical services community in Region 3, Kennebec Valley EMS; Region 4, Northeastern Maine EMS; and Region 6, Mid-Coast Maine EMS. This year, the organization focused its awards on EMS agencies that have a strong commitment to community and improving the statewide EMS system.
UVAC is one of 79 state-licensed EMS providers in Region 4, which includes emergency service providers in Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington counties. This is the first time the UMaine group has won this award.
The group was recognized for its members’ dedication to serve others, the more than 30,000 volunteer hours it provides annually, and for establishing a comprehensive CPR program on campus, which included the placement of more than 20 automated external defibrillators (AED) and relevant training for staff and students.
”This is a wonderful award to receive,” says Joseph Kellner, UVAC chief of service. “It showcases the dedication and drive the large group of student-volunteers have for selfless service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It shows that despite the relatively new exposure to the field of EMS, our student-volunteers show professionalism, compassion and skill that is on par with our long-term professional colleagues. I am very proud to be a part of this organization.”
UVAC is a volunteer-based service that operates as part of UMaine’s Auxiliary Services and delivers emergency medical services on campus and to surrounding communities. The group is composed of 62 UMaine students, in addition to a dozen staff and neighboring EMS providers. More than 60 percent of the members are EMTs, while others serve as drivers and assistants.
The students in UVAC come from a variety of majors from all of UMaine’s academic colleges. Previous medical training is not required to join the organization and online applications are accepted anytime.
The six regional EMS offices are independent, not-for-profit corporations that operate under a contract for services with the Board of EMS. The Board of EMS is part of the Maine EMS system which is a bureau within the Department of Public Safety, according to the state of Maine’s government website.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
The Bangor Daily News reported a group of Japanese academics and University of Maine representatives visited Ocean Renewable Power Co. in Eastport to learn about the company’s pilot project that uses tides to produce electricity. The Japanese delegation also attended the Marine Energy International Symposium, a three-day conference held at UMaine.
On a sunny July day, Jeffrey Dubois hops into a boat at the dock of the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center in Walpole. Wearing a blaze orange life vest, cargo shorts, T-shirt and a baseball cap, he starts the motor and heads out to the right side of the pier. He steers the boat toward one of four trapping stations he has set up along the shore in the Damariscotta River estuary. Accompanied by a fellow researcher, he hauls a trap from about 5 meters below the surface and finds it’s full of crabs.
Over the course of three days, Dubois will catch about 1,500 green crabs and between 100–200 rock crabs, also known as the commercially harvestable Jonah crab. He throws all them back. But before returning the green crabs to the sea, he measures characteristics such as abundance, species composition, size and sex in an effort to learn more about the invasive species he refers to as “feisty little tanks” and “voracious predators.”
Dubois, a senior from Norway, Maine, who is majoring in marine science with a concentration in marine biology, is trying to determine the most effective and efficient way to trap green crabs in the Gulf of Maine. He hopes information he gathers will help him and other researchers determine how green crab abundances alter with temperature changes and how to create a market for the plentiful creatures.
The green crab came to the Gulf of Maine from Europe in the mid-1800s. In the 1950s, the population exploded in the Gulf’s intertidal zones, causing declines in the state’s soft-shell clam industry, according to Dubois.
“The Gulf of Maine has no natural intertidal species of crab,” Dubois says. “As a result, they have been quite detrimental to our soft-shell clam industry, which developed without having a natural predator.”
The population increase in the 1950s was related to a rise in ocean temperature, and since the Gulf of Maine has been warming over the past few years, green crabs are starting to peak again, Dubois says.
Dubois says green crabs are a thermally regulated invader, meaning as the water gets warmer they thrive, and as the water gets colder they die in mass quantities.
“Our best bet is to chill down the Gulf of Maine, but with this whole idea of climate change, it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon,” he says.
The green crab is also one of the fastest species of crabs, according to Dubois. He says the larger they get, the more they can travel and the more they can eat. Although the crabs prefer a cobblestone habitat, mudflats can become accessible to the larger crabs, putting the soft-shell clams at risk.
“There’s not a lot that eats the green crabs,” Dubois says. “They’re very voracious, they eat a lot. Pretty much if there’s food out there, they’re going to find it, and as a result they’ve become quite a problem.”
There currently isn’t a market for green crabs, and Dubois thinks its mainly due to the crab’s small size — with the largest one he has seen coming in at 8.4 cm wide — and because they’re usually not found any deeper than 5 meters.
“The best thing we can do is open a market for them and just hope something fishes them all out,” he says.
Other researchers at UMaine are looking into ways to make green crabs commercially harvestable by incorporating them into fish food.
Dubois, who is collecting data until the end of the summer, is trying to find the best way to catch green crabs before moving onto more research where trapping will be used for sampling.
He is currently comparing two different baits — herring, a traditional lobster bait, and soft-shell clams — as well as two different types of traps. Dubois is using the Acer trap, a cylindrical trap designed by researchers to catch green crabs, and shrimp traps donated by a local fisherman. The shrimp traps are similar to a trap the Maine Department of Marine Resources used in the 1950s and ’60s to measure green crab abundances, Dubois says.
“What I’ve basically done is created a Punnett square,” Dubois says. “My hope is that I can figure out which bait catches the most amount of green crabs per trap.”
Although the Acer traps are designed for catching green crabs, Dubois is hopeful the shrimp traps and less expensive herring will prove to be an affordable option, by using equipment a lot of shrimp fishermen already have.
“Shrimping only happens in the winter, so there are a lot of shrimp traps out there that aren’t used during the summertime,” Dubois says. “If we were to open a market and the shrimp traps were effective in catching green crabs, people could fish for shrimp in the winter and fish for green crab in the summer.”
Dubois originally wanted to study the Asian shore crab, a more recent invasive species, but once he started researching at the center, he learned they hadn’t made it that far into the Gulf of Maine.
He then began looking for green crab studies and found a project being led by Brian Beal, a marine ecology professor at the University of Maine at Machias, that focuses on measuring abundances over a few sites in Maine. With the help of his capstone adviser, marine science professor Bob Steneck, Dubois got involved with Beal and his research.
“Once I can figure out how to best capture green crabs, the doors that open for my research are almost infinite,” Dubois says. “Eventually, once Asian shore crabs make it up here, I want to see which one is the better invader.”
After earning his undergraduate degree, Dubois plans to attend graduate school to earn his master’s — possibly in coral reef ecology, following in the footsteps of Steneck — and eventually get a Ph.D.
“I don’t want to get my Ph.D. yet because I can get it at any point in my life. I only have a youthful body until I’m — oh, I don’t know — 40 or 45,” Dubois says.
In the near future, Dubois hopes to continue to conduct research, enter the workforce and start making connections.
Dubois recalls wanting to be a marine biologist in elementary school, but let that dream fade in his pursuit to become a doctor.
“I went into college with biochemistry and a minor in pre-med and I was gung-ho that I was going to be a doctor,” Dubois says. “I’m first generation to go to college, so why not become a doctor? Go big or go home, right?”
After his third semester in the program, Dubois, who became a CNA at age 16 and started working in a hospital at 18, decided being a doctor wasn’t what he wanted.
“I remembered seeing a poster for the Darling Marine Center’s Semester by the Sea my freshman year in my Biology 100 class, and I thought ‘Wow, that would be so cool to be able to do that.’ And two years later I decided to switch to marine science. It was a shot in the dark, something I wasn’t really sure of, but I haven’t looked back since,” Dubois says.
Dubois, who has a full-time job at Maine Kayak and recently picked up a second job at Glidden Point Oyster Farm, says finding time to do research on top of working seven days a week can be challenging, but it’s worth it. He sees the study as a great opportunity to learn valuable research skills, such as “being able to roll with the punches” when it comes to science and enjoys studying at the center.
“This is anywhere and everywhere that I’d want to be and now I’m doing that Semester by the Sea program that I saw on that poster freshman year,” Dubois says. “It’s kind of like you gotta see what you want, then you’ve gotta take it.”
In summer 2013, University of Maine sophomore David Grant of Addison, Maine, got a view of campus unlike any other. Grant was one of the 8,000 successful applicants nationwide to trial Google Glass, a wearable, hands-free smart device. The UMaine political science major was selected for Google Glass based on his proposal to reinvent the college tour experience. Grant says he will use Google Glass to develop a first-person tour of the campus, including UMaine athletics and performing arts events, using the video calling capabilities of the technology. His photographs and video will be uploaded to Tumblr.
How did you hear about the Google Glasses opportunity? I heard about the contest through the Google Glass Twitter account. I decided to try to win Glass because I figured I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
How were you informed of your winning submission? At the end of March, I received a tweet from Google Glass telling me that I had won the opportunity to purchase Glass, and that I had to wait a few weeks for more information. I was ecstatic and could hardly believe my eyes.
So you’re bringing Google Glass to UMaine to give others a sense of UMaine. Let’s talk about your UMaine experience, beginning with why you choose the university. I loved the idea of being close to home, but still being able to be outside the immediate influence of my parents.
How would you describe the academic atmosphere at UMaine? It’s great. You have so many tools at your disposal, from the library to the writing lab. There is help for anyone if they look for it.
Have you worked closely with a mentor, professor or role model who has made your UMaine experience better, and if so, who and how? Professor Richard Powell, my adviser, has been a great help, mapping out my courses for me.
Have you had an experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world? Meeting great friends. There are amazing people here at UMaine.
What is the most interesting, engaging or helpful class you’ve taken at UMaine? Intro to Political Theory with Michael Palmer.
What are UMaine students like? It’s hard to assign them one word. UMaine students are all different. The one thing we hold in common, though, is the love for our university, as corny as that may sound.
What surprised you about UMaine? How much I have fallen in love with the campus.
Describe UMaine in one word. Invigorating.
What do you do outside of class? I spend time with friends, study and participate in a couple clubs.
Favorite place on campus? Alfond Arena.
Favorite place off campus? The Bangor Mall movie theater.
How’s the food? What’s your favorite thing to eat on campus? The food is good, but there is nothing like home. However the grill at Hilltop is superb.
What is your favorite UMaine tradition? Singing the “Stein Song” before every hockey game, after every goal and after every game.
What is your most memorable UMaine moment? The first hockey home win last year.
What do you hope to do after graduation and how has UMaine helped you reach those goals? I hope to become a history teacher. UMaine will help me with this goal because of the unlimited resources I have at my disposal.
What was your first year like? My first year was everything I could have asked for.
What is your favorite memory of living on campus? There are so many. If I have to choose one, though, I would have to stick with the hockey theme. My first UMaine game in the student section was amazing.
What difference has UMaine made in your life? It has made me realize that I should not take this opportunity for granted.
What advice do you have for incoming students? Your first year will be the year that you try new things, meet new people and adapt to the college lifestyle. As long as you stay true to your values — principles — and work hard, you will be fine.
Maine and New Hampshire’s coastal tourism and shellfish industries contribute millions of dollars annually to the regional economy. In Maine in 2010, coastal tourism and recreation added $1.1 billion to Maine’s gross domestic product, while shellfish landings in that same year generated revenues of $347 million. But these industries and the coastal environment they depend on are vulnerable to a variety of factors, including pollution, climate change and invasive species.
A team of researchers led by the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire will conduct a three-year study of the many factors affecting the health of their shared coastal ecosystem. This collaboration, funded by a $6 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), aims to strengthen the scientific basis for decision making related to the management of recreational beaches and shellfish harvesting. This research is a direct outgrowth of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, supported by the NSF EPSCoR program.
The project, titled the New England SusTainability Consortium (NEST), is managed by the EPSCoR programs at UMaine and UNH in partnership with College of the Atlantic, University of New England, University of Southern Maine, Great Bay Community College, Plymouth State University and Keene State College. In Maine, researchers will also collaborate with several state agencies and other stakeholders, including the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine State Department of Education and Maine Healthy Beaches.
“I am delighted that the National Science Foundation selected the New England SusTainability Consortium, for this Research Infrastructure Improvement grant,” said Sen. Susan Collins. “Through both tourism as well as commercial fishing, our state’s economy is highly dependent on the ecological well-being of the Gulf of Maine. This grant will help fund the vital research performed by faculty and students at the University of Maine as they seek to find ways to reduce pollution caused by coastal runoff and assist local governments in making informed decisions regarding the closure of beaches and shellfish beds.”
“This is good news for Maine, and indeed for all coastal areas,” said Sen. Angus King. “Our shellfish industry is facing many threats an climate change, warming oceans, acidifying waters, and an increase in green crabs, which are decimating clam flats. Our state simply can’t lose another fishery. I look forward to seeing the results of the good work that this grant will enable, like hopefully more targeted closures of flats. Our changing environment is a big problem, and while we work out broad solutions, we must also focus on mitigating the direct impacts on people and ecosystems.”
UMaine President Paul W. Ferguson affirmed the project’s importance, stating, “This NSF grant recognizes the leadership and contribution of University of Maine scholars who aim to support coastal ecosystems, economies, and communities by promoting sustainable policies and practices in Maine.”
The project combines scientific knowledge and local expertise to improve resource management decisions. There is widespread agreement among resource managers and scientists in both states that current beach and shellfish management decisions are challenging and can be improved by strengthening partnerships among scientists, managers and communities.
NEST uses a collaborative process where resource managers and other stakeholders participate in defining problems, identifying research needs, interpreting results and designing solutions. The team will select a number of study sites in each state to investigate how natural processes like water flow in rivers, and human activities like land development, in coastal watersheds influence bacterial dynamics. Project research will advance understanding of how environmental and climatic conditions affect the dynamics of bacterial pathogens. The project studies how human activities contribute to and are affected by these bacterial dynamics and related public resource management decisions. Coupling these distinct strands of research offers a more comprehensive view of beach and shellfish management. This innovative approach seeks to generate cost-effective strategies for reducing bacterial pollution. By identifying solutions that strategically avert risks to humans, while supporting economic development and ecosystem health, NEST will develop regional capacity between Maine and New Hampshire to advance sustainability solutions through science.
Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI) is supported in large part by a $20 million, five-year investment through the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR Program). SSI enhances Maine’s research capacity and promotes innovation and societal benefit through the field of sustainability science. This innovative initiative represents an extensive network of over 350 researchers and students and more than 200 community-based stakeholders working together to advance solutions across Maine.
Contact: Andrea Littlefield, 207.581.2289
Massachusetts native Kristine Hoffmann feels right at home in her wading boots in vernal pools in Orono, Maine.
As a youngster, she enjoyed exploring a spring wetland close to her Bay State backyard. And these days, vernal pools — forest floor depressions that fill with water in the spring and generally dry out in late spring or early summer — are again an interest for Hoffmann.
The University of Maine doctoral student is studying the breeding ecology, habitat selection and life histories of the blue-spotted salamander (Ambystoma laterale), including the distance they emigrate from vernal pools.
Hoffmann recently followed one salamander 280 meters from a local vernal pool, multiple times the distance she anticipated.
“When I saw this job, it felt like coming home,” Hoffmann says of her dissertation research. “It’s a great opportunity.”
In recent years, vernal pools have become a topic of discussion and concern due to a worldwide decline of amphibians, some of which breed in the vernal pool in which they were born.
In order for blue-spotted salamanders to be conserved, Hoffmann says vernal pools and the adjacent forestland need to be protected. When vernal pools and the critical land around them are destroyed, amphibians are lost, biodiversity decreases and food availability for other species is compromised.
Current Maine regulations state that “the basin depression of ‘significant’ vernal pools must not be disturbed,” says Hoffmann, “and at least 75 percent of the critical terrestrial habitat within 250 feet of the high-water mark must remain intact and forested, with native understory and woody debris.”
Those regulations, though, protect fewer than 25 percent of Maine vernal pools, and Hoffmann says that might not be enough to ensure long-term conservation of other salamanders, as well as wood frogs and fairy shrimp that also breed in vernal pools in the state.
Hoffmann says data from her research may inform proposed legislation about zones of consultation in Maine.
Because vernal pools don’t have inlets or outlets and because they dry up, salamanders are at risk from fewer predators than they would be in ponds and lakes.
But there’s a trade-off of sorts — they’ve had to adapt to breed quickly — they arrive early to the pool and hatch and undergo metamorphosis within weeks. The impetus is strong — they have to lose their gills and grow lungs before the seasonal pool is gone.
After blue-spotted salamanders grow lungs, they spend much of their life underneath leaves in the surrounding moist woodlands in eastern central North America, the Atlantic Provinces and northern New England. The nocturnal amphibians with long tails can grow as long as 5.5 inches.
Seven days a week, Hoffmann treks to several Orono-area vernal pools. She dons a broad hat, blue jeans and long sleeves to ward off mosquitoes — a staple of salamanders’ diet.
In a sun-dappled forest near a pollen-coated vernal pool Hoffmann checks whether the adult salamanders she implanted with radio transmitters have moved.
If they have, she marks the new spots with flags then notes factors including canopy density and soil temperature and moisture level.
Hoffmann implanted the transmitters — which will emit signals for about 45 days — during a short surgery in which they were anesthetized in a UMaine lab.
In mid-June, Hoffmann was awaiting the first of this year’s juvenile salamanders to emerge from the pools.
Much of what she’s already learned from her research has resulted in more queries. For instance, she questions why after the mass spring migration there were 700 female salamanders and just three males in one area pool.
There are now two types of blue-spotted salamanders, Hoffman says — Ambystoma laterale and unisexual salamanders, which are the result of prior hybridizing. Today, the unisex salamander steals sperm from the Ambystoma laterale.
Hoffmann will study both blue-spotted salamanders and the unisex salamanders to see what effects genotype (different genetic compositions), female body size and environmental factors have on egg mass structure and fertility.
She’ll also examine which environmental factors — pond depth, canopy density, distance to roads and presence of other breeders in the pool — impact breeding site selection. And she’ll explore whether juvenile habitat choice differs between the genotypes.
“We keep finding out things. We’ve found salamanders with three genomes or four or five genomes,” she says, wondering aloud what that might mean for the salamanders’ health and life expectancy. “If we [humans] get one extra chromosome, we get Down syndrome.”
UMaine undergraduates Eleanor D’Urso from Branford, Conn., Catherine Herr from Cape May, N.J. and Ian Lookabaugh from Lubec, Maine, are assisting Hoffmann with the research.
D’Urso and Lookabaugh are fifth-year wildlife ecology majors and Herr is a fifth-year student majoring in wildlife ecology and mathematics.
Katherine Sypher, an Orono High School junior is also assisting with the study through the OHS-University of Maine Summer Research Experience Program. The program seeks to increase high school students’ science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.
Sypher says it’s an ideal summer job — she’s paid to work outside while learning and applying practical knowledge.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Last summer’s ocean heat wave has provided researchers from the University of Maine and Gulf of Maine Research Institute with unique insights into how fishery managers and policymakers might best sustain marine ecosystems in the face of climate change.
The study found the abnormal water temperatures, which were 3 degrees to 5 degrees above the long-term average, caused some species to move north and seek refuge in cooler waters, and others to migrate earlier than usual. These behavioral changes had substantial ramifications for commercial fishermen, affecting both the species variety and the selling price of their catch.
“Longfin squid, which are generally found off the shores of Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, made their way to the Maine coast,” said Katherine Mills, one of the scientists who published the findings in the June issue of Oceanography. “Local fishermen quickly took advantage of the catch, and new local markets for the squid developed.”
The warmer temperatures also caused Gulf of Maine lobsters to molt about a month earlier than usual, bringing an early start to the summer harvest. While lobstermen proceeded to catch a record number of these crustaceans, the abundance flooded the market and caused the price of lobsters to plummet.
“In order to sustain marine ecosystems, scientists and fishery managers also need to be able to rapidly adjust in response to abrupt changes in climate,” Mills said. “In the paper, we outline a number of recommendations to help them prepare for and react to events like the 2012 ocean heat wave.”
The researchers advocate for development of climate-ecosystem models that link physical changes to biological outcomes and economic impacts. These models would help fishery managers identify and evaluate climate change adaptation strategies.
In addition, they assert that targeted predictive models that take into account multiple real-time data streams would be valuable for supporting fishery management decisions in the era of climate change.
They also state that fishery management processes may need greater flexibility to accommodate and adjust to future climate events. One such example is a responsive permitting structure for commercial fishermen that may be helpful in case one species leaves the area and another species moves in.
Additional collaborators on this research included SUNY Stony Brook and NOAA, as well as researchers from France and Taiwan.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777