Vol. 3, No. 1
1998 Visionaries set stewardship standard
Halifax, Nova Scotia ---- In recognition of their innovative, creative, and committed efforts to improve the marine environment, the Gulf of Maine Council annually recognizes "visionaries" from each of the five jurisdictions around the Gulf ---- Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
"The Gulf of Maine Council's Visionary Awards recognize organizations and individuals who, through their actions, have advanced the Council's goals for protection of the marine environment," said Council Secretariat Manager Andrew Cameron of the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture shortly after the Council announced the 1998 award recipients. "The support and commitment of local organizations and individuals are essential elements for protection of the Gulf of Maine," he added. Nova Scotia also presented a separate award to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Information Morning reporter Pam Berman for her series on lobster conservation in the Gulf of Maine.
Arthur A. Longard
The late Arthur ("Art") Longard, who died in December 1997 after a long battle with cancer, is remembered as having dedicated his career to protecting the ocean, one of Nova Scotia's most valuable resources. "He lived and breathed his love for the oceans both in his work and in his recreational private life," says friend and colleague Peter Underwood, Deputy Minister at the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, where Longard had served since 1980 as Director of Policy, Planning and Coastal Resources. Earlier he worked at the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. An avid sailor and diver, Longard "had an affinity for all things marine," Underwood says.
Longard was a founding member of the Gulf of Maine Council program, and was the province's long-time representative to the Council's working group. "The thing that he really liked about it was that it did offer an opportunity to look at a piece of space on earth without the political boundaries on it," Underwood recalls. "He always used to say, 'This is the fun file. It's a chance to forget who we are and what our positions are and get together on issues of common concern and have some fun with it.' He had an aura about him that was magnetic and positive."
The Council has created an Art Longard award to be given annually to an outstanding volunteer within the Gulf of Maine region in memory of Longard's belief in citizen volunteerism as essential to sustaining natural resources. The first award will be presented later this year.
Clean Nova Scotia
Clean Nova Scotia (CNS) has led community programs addressing environmental restoration, conservation, and enhancement throughout Nova Scotia, coordinating an annual maritime provinces Beachsweep that cleans up dozens of beaches. In 1998, the group coordinated a Gulf-wide Beach Cleanup Program for the International Year of the Ocean. Executive Director Meinhard Doelle says some community groups were cleaning up beaches before CNS formed, but that his organization has boosted the efforts of all participants through recognition and support.
Formed in 1988 in response to concern about litter and solid waste in the province, CNS has adopted other issues as well. This year, CNS is starting an educational campaign to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that are believed to contribute to global warming. Scientists predict that warming temperatures will increase sea levels, augmenting erosion, and causing other coastal effects.
As part of CNS's continuing focus on beach stewardship, Doelle says. "This year we're starting an Adopt-a-Beach program, supporting groups that have been involved in the Beachsweep for a long time in looking at it more holistically." CNS will assist those groups with activities such as water quality monitoring, identifying local sources of pollution, working with industry, conducting wildlife inventories, and monitoring erosion.
William Beverley Scott
William Beverley Scott has devoted a prolific career to researching organisms on the Atlantic coast of Canada, in the Caribbean, and in freshwater ecosystems. He has studied the distribution, systematics, behavior, and ecology of Atlantic Canada's fishes, compiling a wealth of valuable information for scientists, conservationists, economic developers, and resource managers.
Scott initiated the Atlantic Reference Center, one of North America's largest collections of larval fishes, housed at the Huntsman Marine Science Center in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. He served as Executive Director there and, until his retirement last year, as Senior Scientist. He has also served as honorary curator of the St. Andrews Biological Station.
In 1988 after many years of work, he published the federal publication, Fishes of the Atlantic Coast of Canada. He worked on that document with his wife of 57 years, Milly Scott, a bibliographer.
Additionally, Scott's career has included investigating the feasibility of establishing a hagfishery off the coast of Nova Scotia, and conducting research on the Atlantic sturgeon, a species being cultivated for aquaculture. Undertaking more thorough research of marine organisms is critical to managing marine resources, in Scott's view. "We know enough to exploit them but we don't know enough to fully understand the role they play in the ecology of the region."
Eastern Charlotte Waterways Inc.
Eastern Charlotte Waterways (ECW) brings together diverse parties including community members, government, industry, and academia to address coastal watershed and other environmental issues in Southwestern New Brunswick.
ECW began as one of Environment Canada's Atlantic Coastal Action Programs, which receive a small amount of federal funding and are intended to bring community members together to address local environmental priorities.
About 80-100 volunteers participate in ECW's numerous projects, according to Executive Director Susan Farquharson, who says the group is focusing this year on assessing the effects of rockweed harvesting and the use of biocides in aquaculture.
Farquharson says one of ECW's most successful initiatives is its cooperative bacterial monitoring program that includes participants from the federal and provincial governments and the shellfish harvesting and processing industries. The partners began monitoring water quality in local shellfish harvesting areas when staff cutbacks at Environment Canada (EC) ended federal monitoring in those areas. Without evidence that the waters were clean, the government would have had to close them to shellfishing.
Now, ECW collects water samples and sends them to EC for analysis. In addition to providing the government with the information it needs to keep the shellfish beds open, Farquharson says the program "gave the soft-shell clam industry in this area one strong voice. It can speak through this committee."
A consistent voice for the health of the world's oceans, and an advocate for the protection and wise use of the Gulf of Maine's marine resources, Edward Myers is also a pioneer who, in the 1970s, helped develop and nurture Maine's aquaculture industry, today valued at over $150 million.
Myers launched North America's first mussel farm and founded a shellfish mail order business. He has also served as administrator of Darling Marine Center, chaired the Maine Department of Marine Resources Advisory Committee, and writes a column for The Working Waterfront/Inter-Island News, published by the Island Institute in Rockland, Maine.
Worried that bureaucracies lack mechanisms to address the cumulative effects of incremental environmental changes on the ocean, Myers is especially concerned about the marine effects of airborne carbon particulates generated by industrial and automotive emissions. "If CO2 goes into the water at reasonable rates it can be photosynthesized and give us oxygen, but how much carbon is too much?" he wonders.
A volunteer with many coastal conservation organizations including the Maine Island Trail Association, Myers also helped establish the Planning Alliance of the Damariscotta River Estuary. He says his activism comes naturally. "That's the way my head works."
Penobscot Marine Museum
Maine's oldest maritime museum, the Penobscot Marine Museum, under the leadership of Executive Director Renny Stackpole, works closely with local environmental organizations to chronicle, preserve, and champion Maine's maritime heritage and to interpret and protect Penobscot Bay.
The museum has a long history of preserving the heritage of coastal Maine in general, and Penobscot Bay in particular. In addition to its commitment to maritime art, history, culture, and education, the Museum has been an active member of the Pen Bay Network, and co-sponsors the Penobscot Bay Marine Volunteer Program ---- organizations involved in protecting the region's natural resources.
Among the many activities that volunteers in the program take on is water quality monitoring in the Penobscot River and Penobscot Bay. Volunteers also work in the museum as interpreters. "We're not just exhibiting artifacts, but also teaching about the bay as a living environment," says Stackpole. "Marine museums can't just rest on the laurels of their historical collections. They must focus on the living environment," and how changes affect it.
"I grew up honoring the ocean because it was my family's living," says farmer, herbalist, and coastal resources activist Sue Foote. Describing a youth spent renting out rowboats and selling bait worms from her family's Hampton Harbor fishing pier where her father docked his party fishing boat, Foote says it led her to dedicate herself to protecting and restoring natural resources in coastal New Hampshire.
She also encourages other budding conservationists, initiating a salt marsh monitoring program for Seabrook High School students, and working to expand an aquaculture education and research program for students ranging from the middle school to graduate school through the University of New Hampshire's Cooperative Extension.
Her work with the Great Bay Watch, the New Hampshire Estuaries Project, and the New Hampshire Coastal Program (NHCP) to complete a sanitary shoreline survey of Hampton/Seabrook marsh led to the eventual opening of the Middle Ground clam flats in Hampton Harbor. As a member of the Seabrook Planning Board and Conservation Commission, Foote led the commission last year in pursuing salt marsh restoration projects with funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and NHCP.
Foote maintains that degrading saltmarshes along the Atlantic coast have contributed to depleting groundfish stocks. "I can remember when you could go three miles [five kilometers] offshore and fill the boat to the gunwales with 20- to 24-inch haddock in a couple of hours," she says. "Salt marshes are virtually the nursery for everything. If you don't have a healthy salt marsh, you aren't going to have the groundfish."
Advocates for the North Mill Pond
"We're trying to foster an appreciation of North Mill Pond because, despite its industrial history, it really is a beautiful spot in the middle of Portsmouth," says Steve Miller, President of Advocates for the North Mill Pond (ANMP).
Formed in 1997 by residents from the neighborhoods surrounding the pond and others concerned about the area's environmental quality, ANMP works to protect, restore, and enhance the North Mill Pond estuary. "We focus on the environment as a way of improving the quality of life where we live," says Miller. Also, he points out, healthy marshes serve as water filters and provide fish habitat, making them important to coastal fisheries.
The group publishes a quarterly newsletter, sponsors public education meetings, and organizes numerous projects including an annual shoreline cleanup and a project involving local school children in planting salt marsh grass and re-seeding mussel beds. With help from numerous partners, ANMP has also conducted and published the results of a year-long environmental assessment of the pond.
In the future, Miller says, ANMP "will continue our efforts to clean up and revitalize the North Mill Pond, and strengthen partnerships in our community to improve environmental health."
Robert "Stubby" Knowles and Dave Sargent
"Stubby" Knowles and Dave Sargent have pooled their commitment to environmental protection, their technical and practical expertise, and their extensive volunteerism to spur coastal improvements in the Gloucester/Essex County area. Knowles and Sargent have conducted extensive water sampling that has helped identify problems and dramatically improve coastal water quality in the region. This has led to the opening of shellfish beds, retaining of coastal access sites, and restoration of priority marsh areas.
A commercial shellfisherman and member of the volunteer Gloucester Shellfish Advisory Commission, Sargent is also a representative to the Eight Towns and the Bay Committee, which works to restore salt marshes along the Massachusetts Bay. He recently helped develop a manual that aids water quality monitors in examining bacterially contaminated water samples for the presence of a dye used in most laundry detergents. Evidence of the dye would indicate the presence of human wastewater.
Knowles, who works closely with Sargent, has been Gloucester's Shellfish Constable for 27 years, and oversees about 1,000 acres/405 hectares of open shellfish beds. He also monitors closed beds and works on cleaning them up so the town can reopen them. Formerly in the shellfish business himself, Knowles says its importance has increased with the decline of Gloucester's fishing fleet. "It's a resource that everybody's after now. It provides a place for them to be able to go to supplement the income from their other jobs."
Massachusetts Audubon Society Coastal Waterbird Program
Since its inception in 1987, the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Coastal Waterbird Program, under the direction of Scott Hecker, has grown from a small, seasonal project to a year-round effort. The program now combines research, conservation, environmental education, land acquisition, and advocacy to protect more than 50 tern, shorebird, and heron nesting sites along the state's coastline.
The program is largely responsible for the rapidly recovering population of the threatened piping plover, which increased in Massachusetts from 126 to 490 pairs from 1987 to 1997. Hecker says, "I hope to continue to make progress in the face of the growing conflict with competing uses of the shoreline."
Hecker has convinced Massachusetts towns to restrict off-road vehicle traffic near the beach habitat of piping plovers and least terns, and has organized projects designed to encourage plovers and terns to return to nesting areas they had not visited in years. Additionally, he is pushing for limits on erosion control measures such as sea walls, vegetation planting, and snow fences, which he says prevent natural development of piping plover and least tern habitat.
Of the 200 people who participate in tern and plover protection in Massachusetts, Hecker says. "We're all very determined to help these birds and the obstacles are very great. Every year is certainly no easier than the year before. On the other hand its wonderful to be involved in work where you can show quantitative accomplishments."
For information on how to nominate an individual or organization for a 1999 Visionary Award, contact the Gulf of Maine Secretariat.