R-10-05 Mapping Maine’s working waters

Rob Snyder
Island Institute
P.O. Box 648
386 Main Street
Rockland, Maine 04841

Coastal and marine planning initiative require spatial data, such as information about oceanography, habitat, and other biophysical characteristics across large areas of the ocean. Yet human uses of the ocean, especially those at local and regional scales, are not as readily available to planners, and can be overlooked during state and federal planning efforts. Sea Grant funded research by the Island Institute to reconcile the relationship between community representations of practices on the water (the where and when of human uses) with the biophysical data more commonly included as part of spatial planning exercises. Using three Maine communities as a pilot study, the Island Institute inventoried and mapped community-scale fishing-related uses of the marine environment to “groundtruth” data, as well as to engage communities directly in the collection and use of baseline spatial data through interviews with fishermen. Data on a variety of fisheries were then digitized, verified with project participants, and aggregated into map layers.

The Principal Investigators leveraged the initial Sea Grant funding for an additional $242,500 from a variety of federal, state, and private foundation funds to expand the mapping project and associated offshore wind stakeholder engagement work. The project now has coastwide spatial data coverage derived from 38 interviews representing 16 Maine coastal and island fishing communities. To date, the maps have been used by the Maine Coastal Program, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and the Northeast Regional Ocean Council as part of planning discussions. The maps have enabled fishermen to engage with resource management decisions, and have helped delineate potential conflicts, such as the interaction between areas closed to groundfishing and the state’s offshore lobster fishery. The interview-based mapping process developed and modified as part of this project could be used as a basis for similar efforts to engage local communities in spatial planning and decision-making using the best possible information.  View project website.

Two-Year Project, $37,000