Mitchell Center Stakeholder Workshop Focuses on Tidal Power


Mitchell Center Stakeholder Workshop Focuses on Tidal Power

Jessica Jansujwicz

As part of the Mitchell Center-funded Integrating and Sharing Data to Support Resilience in Maine Coastal Communities project, a stakeholder workshop was held on September 27th that included UMaine team members and external partners Sipayik Environmental Department (Passamaquoddy Tribe), the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service, and Ocean Renewable Power Company.

The objective of the project is to further understanding of the process by which scientific information is produced and used in permitting and regulatory decisions, with a particular focus on tidal power.

Team leader Jessica Jansujwicz notes, “We are interested in how scientists work with other scientists, regulators, developers, and community stakeholders to generate, organize, and distribute data on ecosystem components such as fish, marine mammals, and birds, and determine how this information is used in decisions that may affect the ecology of the region and the people who depend on healthy ecosystems.” Jansujwicz is an assistant research professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology and a Mitchell Center faculty fellow.

Jansujwicz adds, “To inform decision-making, we are exploring strategies to integrate and more effectively share scientific information from different sources, places, and time frames.. Critical to this approach is a better understanding of the unique perspectives of different stakeholder groups with respect to what constitutes “usable” information.”

The September workshop was the first in a series of quarterly workshops that will occur.

Workshops are a central component of the project’s goal to tailor data integration and information sharing to the specific needs and capacities of key stakeholder groups who affect or are affected by the process of tidal power development in Maine—state and federal regulators, industry developers, and a tribal environmental program.“The quarterly workshops are key to this approach and to investigating how perceptions influence the uptake of research-based environmental monitoring protocols to inform tidal power permitting decisions in different locations,” says Jansujwicz.

In the first workshop, the team discussed project goals, explored the types of decisions different stakeholders make in the context of tidal power development, and began to identify information needs and preferred communication strategies. “We anticipate the next meeting willbe held in January 2019,” notes Jansujwicz.

Other team members include Gayle Zydlewski, Caroline Noblet, Laura Rickard, Sandra De Urioste-Stone, Teresa Johnson, Kristina Cammen, Louise McGarry of the School of Marine Science, and master’s student Gabriella Marafino.