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September / October 2004

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UMaine Today Magazine

First Impression from the President

Interim President Robert A. Kennedy
Interim President
Robert A. Kennedy

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With its 3,500 miles of coastline, Maine has always been inextricably linked to the sea. Shell middens provide clues to how early peoples interacted with the marine environment. Archival records reveal how Europeans first explored the coast, sea captains and boatbuilders made their livings, and fishermen plied their trade.

Despite such a long history, we are still looking for greater understanding of our oceans, including the effect of humans on the marine environment. Today, it's particularly urgent because our oceans are in crisis, as demonstrated by recent reports from the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission. A number of abundant fisheries have crashed, although some show signs of recovery. Ocean policies must respond to multiple pressures, including industrial development and homeland security concerns.

Researchers around the globe are racing to contribute information through basic and applied science to ensure that our marine environments remain sustainable, economically viable and safe. At the University of Maine, we are expanding our long-standing marine sciences and aquaculture research efforts. Our scientists and students work in the Gulf of Maine and around the world, on scales ranging from single species to marine ecosystems. They are learning how fish from Atlantic cod to tropical reef species develop to become reproducing adults. With new round-the-clock monitoring technologies, they are studying the complex cycles of plankton, which is the foundation for marine food webs and a major influence on global climate.

Increasingly, UMaine is strengthening those efforts by building partnerships with private-sector businesses, coastal communities and individuals who make their living from the sea. The results are such initiatives as: studies of cod, salmon and halibut at UMaine's Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin; marine-related business incubator facilities at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole; and problem-solving efforts by Maine Sea Grant and Marine Extension.

Learning how our marine environment works, and how we can keep it healthy, is critical to solving problems and making sure that Maine citizens will continue to harvest the benefits of our close relationship with the sea.

Editor's note: University of Maine Executive Vice President and Provost Robert Kennedy was named Interim President when UMaine President Peter Hoff resigned in July.

Robert A. Kennedy Signature

UMaine Today Magazine
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