“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years... is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.”
— Rachel Carson, The Edge of the Sea
“For the fishing industry, the Gulf of Maine is our home. That’s where most of our fishing is done and where we earn our living. we believe it needs to be protected from all the things that can threaten it. we need to work together to stay ever-vigilant.”
— Angela Sanfilippo, President, Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association
The Gulf of Maine, including the Bay of Fundy, is a world-class natural wonder that is shared by the Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the States of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Our people rely on it for their livelihoods, for recreation, and for personal renewal.
In spite of its amazing natural beauty and historical abundance of marine resources, the Gulf of Maine is a highly stressed ecosystem in urgent need of attention. Goal 1 addresses the region’s need for data, information, and partnerships to restore and conserve marine and coastal habitats.
Decision-makers in the Gulf of Maine require information to sustain human communities and to preserve ecological integrity. Goal 2 addresses the region’s need for data, information, and partnerships to ensure that environmental conditions support the health of people and the ecosystem.
In 1989 the governors and premiers of the five Gulf jurisdictions – Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia – established the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment (the Council) as a Canadian-American regional partnership that provides collaborative leadership on cross-border issues such as ecosystem conditions, water quality, and climate change within the Gulf of Maine watershed. This forum engages governmental and nongovernmental representatives in a comprehensive approach to management, emphasizing natural linkages over political boundaries and integrating ecological, economic and societal goals. The Council’s work to protect and enhance environmental quality and allow for sustainable resource use by existing and future generations is made possible by volunteer and financial support from many partners.
The mission of the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment is to maintain and enhance environmental quality in the Gulf of Maine to allow for sustainable resource use by existing and future generations.
The work of the Council in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem is guided by a set of principles. Each principle is congruent with international protocols, as well as state, provincial, and national legislation in Canada and the United States.
The Council organizes conferences and workshops to discuss issues pertaining to the Gulf of Maine; provide funding and technical support to communities for conservation and restoration efforts; conduct environmental monitoring; provide science translation to management; raise public awareness about the Gulf; and connect people, organizations, and information.
The Council works to help communities protect and restore valuable coastal habitats. Through an extended partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, complemented by other supporters such as the RBC Blue Water Project, the Council has funded 115 local projects that have restored 680 acres (260 hectares) of tidal marsh and reopened 4,900 acres (1,900 hectares) of spawning area to sea-run fish such as alewife, eel and salmon. The wildlife benefits of restoration are matched by notable economic returns, including commercial and recreational fishing opportunities, and engineering and construction jobs.
To help communities take effective action in a world with more variable and extreme weather events, the Council’s Climate Network serves as a regional clearinghouse for information on climate impacts and adaptation strategies. The Network fosters the exchange of climate information across sectors and jurisdictions; provides resources for local communities in the Gulf of Maine watershed; and produces a quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook that summarizes the past season’s temperature, precipitation and impacts, and offers an outlook for the next season.
The Gulf of Maine Council works to gather region-wide ecological data and address critical changes in the watershed. To help gauge large-scale ecological changes over time, the Council established the EcoSystem Indicator Partnership (ESIP), a reporting system that uses factsheets and two web-based tools to deliver regional indicator information. The tools integrate data from more than 13,000 monitoring sites and track regional trends in fisheries, aquaculture, coastal development, climate change, eutrophication and contaminants. ESIP also facilitates data collection in regional settings where large gaps exist.
Gulfwatch, another research partnership launched by the Council in 1991, uses blue mussels to track the presence of metals, pesticides, PCBs and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in nearshore waters. Some contaminants concentrate as they move up the food web, threatening human health and species such as seals and ospreys. The Council has also synthesized and publicized research on sewage and nutrients that can cause eutrophication and algal blooms like “red tide.”
To share research on a broad array of Gulf-related concerns, the Gulf of Maine Council produces the State of the Gulf of Maine Report, an online document that offers cyclically updated, peer-reviewed papers on topics such as marine invasives, at-risk species and coastal development.
The Council’s work is guided by a five-year Action Plan which outlines five-year goals and corresponding activities to respond to changing needs in the Gulf of Maine. Over the years the Council has collaborated on initiatives related to mapping, sustainable coastal communities, environmental monitoring, marine spatial planning and conservation.
Gulf of Maine Council’s active initiatives and planned activities are highlighted in the Gulf of Maine Council 2015-2017 Work Plan. The Work Plan supports the goals and outcomes of the five year Action Plan and is periodically updated to reflect work plan changes and incorporate any new initiatives approved by the Council.
Gulf of Maine Council has strengthened alliances among those who share its vision for a healthy and vital region. It fosters this synergy by sharing stories of success, and by offering annual Gulf of Maine awards. To date, the Council has honored more than 200 individuals, organizations and businesses for their exceptional commitment to sustain the Gulf watershed.
The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment is made up of the Council, a Working Group which oversees the implementation of the Action Plan and Work Plan and provides expert advice to the Council, and several committees responsible for various aspects of the Council’s role in the Gulf of Maine. The Council is administered through a Secretariat which rotates among the five jurisdictions.
The Gulf of Maine Council’s Terms of Reference, organizational charts, and other reference materials are available in the Gulf of Maine Reference Guide. The reference guide is updated as needed to reflect organizational changes to the Gulf of Maine Council.
Over the past quarter-century, the Gulf of Maine Council has strengthened alliances among those who share its vision for a healthy and vital region. It fosters this synergy by sharing stories of success, and by offering annual Gulf ocean health and of Maine awards. The Council has honored more than 200 individuals, organizations and businesses for their exceptional education commitment to sustain the Gulf watershed. [ Click here for more ]