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Gulf of Maine Times

Vol. 4, No. 1


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Gulf Log

Council proclaims 2000 "Year of the Gulf"

Portsmouth, New Hampshire - The Gulf of Maine Council proclaimed 2000 the "Year of the Gulf" at its semi-annual meeting here December 9-10, which also included a public forum on the health of the Gulf of Maine.

New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen appeared at the meeting on December 10 to announce the Gulf of Maine Council's proclamation of 2000 as the "Year of the Gulf." She encouraged the organization to work with grassroots, science, and education organizations 
to shape its five-year action plan for 

Shaheen also signed a resolution reaffirming New Hampshire's commitment to the 1989 agreement between the Gulf's governors and premiers to collaborate on Gulf of Maine management issues. That agreement launched the Gulf of Maine Council, whose tenth anniversary celebrations will continue through this summer, when approximately 30 middle school and high school students from the Gulf of Maine region will attend the Council's summer meeting in Portsmouth to share and report on environmental stewardship experiences.

A public forum on December 10, "Current conditions, future needs: A range of perspectives," offered an opportunity for interested participants to discuss the direction of Gulf of Maine stewardship. Panelists provided scientific, government, business, and nonprofit conservation organization perspectives, while audience members raised questions about sprawl, the aesthetic value of the environment, consumption of re-sources, and education.

At a reception the previous evening, the Council had presented its annual Visionary and Art Longard awards (see story starting on page 4), and announced the recipients of a total of $117,000 in grants that it is awarding this year to organizations working on projects that benefit the Gulf ecosystem through public education, water quality monitoring, or other efforts. (You can visit for a complete 
list of grant recipients.) Last fall, New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg secured a $500,000 appropriation from the US Congress for the Council, enabling it to award the grants.

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Paintings to illustrate Gulf's natural heritage

Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia - Environmental artist Peter Gough is working on a 30-painting series depicting the natural heritage of the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy to create awareness of the importance of these marine areas and to bring attention to the Gulf of Maine Council and help raise funds for its work.

Gough described the series, "The Ark," as a means of helping people connect with the Council's work by showing them the species and habitats affected. "Scientific facts and figures, as important as they are, are only one means of telling a story. Art has the ability to engage emotions and to create an understanding of a subject in a way that no other vehicle can," he said.

Photo of Artist Peter Gough
Artist Peter Gough
Photo courtesy of Peter Gough

Explaining the series' title, "The Ark," Gough said, "I saw this series of paintings as a vessel in that it carries the message from one generation to the next, and one millennium to the next, about the value of the natural environment." Gough attributes some of his inspiration for the series to the late Maine biologist and conservation advocate, Rachel Carson.

The artist plans to show 10 acrylic-on-canvas pieces at Coastal Zone Canada 2000 in Saint John New Brunswick September 17-22, and to complete the series in time for an official opening of the exhibit at the Nova Scotia Museum of Nature in Halifax in December 2000. The exhibit will tour venues throughout the Gulf from April through November 2001, appearing mostly in provincial and state museums and university art galleries.

Gough will contribute 40 percent of the selling price of the paintings to the Gulf of Maine Council, giving the organization the rights to use the images to produce posters, cards, and other products that it can sell, applying the proceeds to its work in the Gulf.

Gough has painted for the benefit of nonprofit organizations before, contributing a portion of the sale of his works to environmental organizations and groups committed to sustainable development. He recently moved back from Newfoundland to his native Nova Scotia to work on the Gulf of Maine series. The project may sound ambitious to some, but in Gough's view, "30 paintings is a very limited amount of pieces to say all that needs to be said."

For more information on "The Ark," contact Peter Gough at (902) 823-1917.

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Workshop to integrate science, management

Woods Hole, Massachusetts - Improving communication among scientists, environmental managers, and citizens working to address environmental quality in the Gulf of Maine is the goal of a workshop scheduled for April 12-14 at the J. Erik Jonsson Center here.

The Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine (RARGOM) is convening the workshop with support from the Gulf of Maine Council, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other regional agencies.

The meeting is one of a series of workshops intended to foster better stewardship of environmental resources in the region through an informed partnership of scientists, managers, the public, and non-governmental organizations. A June 1997 workshop in Sebago, Maine explored institutional barriers between researchers and environmental managers.

decision-makers, local citizens, and the general public need to receive that information in a form that is understandable and useful.

Participants in the April meeting will discuss what information environmental managers need in order to make sound decisions affecting environmental quality, and will establish methods for integrating science and management in those decisions. Outcomes of the workshop will help guide development of environmental monitoring programs at local, state, provincial, and federal levels, according to RARGOM.

"All relevant interests need to be involved from the beginning so that a trust in the process is built," said RARGOM Co-Chair Gerald Pesch of EPA's Office of Research and Development.

To facilitate discussion at the workshop, organizers propose using the National Research Council's (NRC) definition of a marine environmental monitoring system as "a range of activities needed to provide management information about environmental conditions or contaminants."

According to the NRC, combining preliminary studies, laboratory and field research, simulations, data analysis, and other information-gathering activities is a way to provide the knowledge environmental managers need to make decisions.

The workshop's opening plenary session will feature four presentations. David Townsend of the University of Maine will discuss "The Gulf of Maine as an ecosystem"; Ken Sherman of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will address "Why regional monitoring"; Jerry Schubel of the New England Aquarium will speak on "Past/present/future vision for the Gulf"; and Andrea Rex of Massachusetts Water Resources Authority will describe "The MWRA experience with monitoring design as an example."

During the workshop's second session, working groups will identify key questions posed by decision-makers in regard to an environmental management issue specified by the Gulf of Maine Council. Each group will then: determine how to answer those questions using existing monitoring information; identify gaps in understanding or missing information; recommend steps to continue improving integration of science and management in addressing the specified issue; and report on its findings.

Following the workshop, a "synthesis group" will use the working groups' conclusions to develop a plan for advancing the integration of science and management in decisions affecting the environmental quality of the Gulf of Maine. The synthesis group will also summarize the workshop in a report.

For more information about the workshop, contact Genie Braasch, Executive Director, RARGOM, via E-mail at, or call (603) 646-3480.

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Another endangered right whale dies

Block Island, Rhode Island - New England Aquarium whale experts were not able to determine the cause of death of a North Atlantic right whale found floating off of Block Island, Rhode Island, by fishermen on January 19.

Fishing gear was wrapped around the whale's tail, but it is unknown whether the gear caused the animals death. Weather conditions prevented researchers and others from towing the whale to shore for a necropsy (animal autopsy) and aerial searches for the whale were unsuccessful when the weather cleared.

The fishermen who spotted the whale reported it to the Coast Guard who worked with officials from the National Marine Fisheries Service to confirm the species and take video for identification purposes. The Aquarium was able to identify the animal from markings on its belly as #2701 in the Aquarium's right whale identification catalog - a three-year-old female.

With a population numbering only about 325, the death represents another in a series of ill-afforded losses for the right whale species. Last year, two other female North Atlantic right whales also died, one from a collision with a large ship and the other from injuries caused by entanglement in gill net gear. Experts say vessel strikes and entanglements are the top two causes of North Atlantic right whale deaths.

Last fall, the US Congress appropriated $4.1 million for right whale research, including $750,000 earmarked for fishing gear modification research. The US has a recovery plan in place for right whales that includes collaborative efforts with fishermen to reduce fishing gear entanglements. Canada is finalizing a recovery plan for the species, which also addresses entanglement, among other threats to the whales.

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NH salt marsh project receives $300,000

North Hampton, New Hampshire - The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) awarded $300,000 to the State of New Hampshire to re-establish valuable fish and wildlife habitat in the Little River Salt Marsh, and to protect local residents from flooding.

Little River Salt Marsh (click for larger version) 
Photo: NH Office of State Planning

Storm flooding in Hampton and North Hampton in October 1996 resulted in over six feet of standing water in the marsh and damaged nearby houses.

"The purpose of the restoration," said Jeff Taylor, Director of the Office of State Planning, "is to increase the flow of tidal water into the salt marsh because tidal flow is essential for maintaining a fully functional and healthy salt marsh ecosystem." A healthy salt marsh acts like a sponge and prevents flooding, while also filtering water and improving water quality. A salt marsh also provides natural mosquito control and important habitat for fish and waterfowl.

Work to increase tidal flow in the Little River Salt Marsh will include removing obstructions, replacing culverts, and some creek dredging.

The Little River Restoration Project is one of three restoration undertakings chosen by USFWS nationwide to receive funding. It was selected because of the severity of the marsh's degradation, because it is one of the largest salt marsh restoration projects in the northeast, and because the project is backed by a strong partnership of local, state, and federal groups.

The $300,000 award will supplement an overall budget of $1.2 million that has been raised by the partners. The New Hampshire Coastal Program will administer the grant.

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Looking for info on the Gulf?

Use the Gulf of Maine Council's searchable database to find information about the Gulf and about ongoing work to study and sustain it. Search the entire Gulf of Maine Library and/or current and back issues of the Gulf of Maine Times, or connect with useful links to informative sources by visiting and clicking on "Our Library."

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