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.
UMaine Today Magazine
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