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Promoting cooperation to maintain and
enhance environmental quality
Gulf of Maine Times
The Gulf of Maine Habitat Restoration and Conservation Initiative

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For information about the current status of this initiative, please visit

The Gulf of Maine Habitat Restoration and Conservation Initiative is a collaborative, public-private effort that has been working since 2008 to develop and implement a unified habitat restoration and land conservation strategy for the Gulf of Maine. After two years of work the US Gulf of Maine Habitat Restoration and Conservation Plan was officially released on December 8, 2010.


The Gulf of Maine and its abundant biological diversity are vital to human health and the region’s economy. Millions of people depend on the Gulf of Maine for food, recreation, and transportation. It is a unique ecosystem, whose beauty and bounty enrich the lives of all who live, work and visit there. Yet each day, the waters of the Gulf of Maine watershed — its streams, lakes, bays, and beaches — are damaged by untreated sewage, toxic pollution, invasive species, and loss of wildlife habitat. Many diverse initiatives are underway addressing some of the problems, but until now there has been no unified and comprehensive plan, and the pace of restoration and conservation efforts has been hampered by a lack of federal investment in the region. There are manageable solutions, but if we wait the problems only get worse and the solutions more expensive.

Since 2008 state and federal agencies in the three Gulf of Maine states (ME, NH, & MA) have been working together with non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to create the Gulf of Maine Restoration and Conservation Plan. The Plan was officially released at a press conference on December 8 at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland. It outlines over $3 Billion in restoration and conservation program work that needs to be implemented over the next five years, with sustained investment for up to 20 years ($12 billion) to ensure a vibrant ecosystem and strong economy for future generations.

The new Plan focuses on five key “issue areas”:

1. Protect and Restore Fish and Wildlife Habitats and Populations

Remove barriers in wetlands, rivers and streams; restore degraded coastal habitats; protect key parcels of shoreland habitat; clean up “ghost” fishing gear; map seafloor habitats; monitor fish and wildlife populations. Estimated Investment Needed in first five years: $267,513,000

2. Provide Clean, Healthy Coastal Waters Upgrade outdated sewage treatment systems; reduce pollution from stormwater and other non-point sources; support reduction of pollution discharges from vessels; remediate contaminated sediment; implement state-of-the-art testing of coastal water quality. Estimated Investment Needed in first five years: $2,689,626,000

3. Conduct Science, Planning, and Communication Required for Regional Ocean Management, Marine Spatial Planning, and Ecosystem-Based Management Conduct regional planning and integration; analyze socioeconomic and ecological changes; establish regional science-based communication program; provide data and decision support for ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning; oversee implementation of the Plan’s Priority Actions. Estimated Investment Needed in first five years: $29,700,000

4. Promote Resilience to Climate Change

Monitor and assess climate change impacts on habitats; facilitate regional climate-smart planning; mitigate erosion of shoreline habitats; mitigate sea level rise impacts on salt marshes. Estimated Investment Needed in first five years: $33,800,000

5. Prevent and Detect Invasive Species, and Restore Affected Habitats Conduct monitoring to detect invasive species; establish rapid-response teams to remove invasive species; restore habitats degraded by invasive species. Estimated Investment Needed in first five years: $8,870,000

Total Estimated Investment Needed in first five years: $ 3,029,509,000

It should be noted that these figures are quite conservative. In some cases, such as non-point source pollution for stormwater runoff for which reliable estimates were not available, the actual cost of mitigation is likely to be many times higher than indicated. Further, five-year estimates for programs administered by federal agencies without state involvement were simply not available and were not included at all. It is expected that when a detailed implementation plan is developed, many of these unaccounted costs will be determined and included.

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U.S. Gulf of Maine Habitat Restoration and Conservation Plan: A Needs Assessment for Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts

While the initial 30-day public comment period ended on November 29, 2010, and the Plan has been formally announced, we welcome ongoing public input and may use it to update the plan or promote its implementation. Submit your comments regarding the Plan here:

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The following websites have additional information on a variety of ecosystem restoration topics.

To suggest additional links, please contact Peter Alexander [ Back to Top of Page]

Support & Sponsors

Generous support for the Gulf of Maine Habitat Restoration and Conservation Initiative was provided by the Otto Haas Charitable Trust 2 Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

A grant was received from the Kay E. Dopp Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. For 25 years the Maine Community Foundation has been partnering with donors and community groups to strengthen Maine through grants and scholarships.

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Contact Us

For additional information about this initiative, or to offer comments and suggestions, please contact any of the following:

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