Search What's New Site Map Home Links The Paper Let's Talk Our Library About Us

Gulf of Maine Times

Vol. 4, No. 2


Gulf Log
Letters to the Editor
About the GoM Times

Back Issues

Spring 2000
Winter 1999
Fall 1999
Summer 1999
Spring 1999
Winter 1998
Fall 1998
Summer 1998
Spring 1998
Winter 1997
Fall 1997
Summer 1997
Spring 1997

Site Search
Powered by Google


Gulf Log

Council's Year of the Gulf celebrations continue

Portsmouth, New Hampshire - Thirty middle school and high school students will present their stewardship work at the Gulf of Maine Council's "Year of the Gulf" celebration July 19th at the Portsmouth Sheraton.

The students are involved with five different projects - one in each of the two provinces and three states bordering the Gulf - as part of the Gulf of Maine Institute Without Walls (IWW). [See "Council's anniversary events to include celebration of youth stewardship" in the Council Currents section of the Winter 1999 issue of the Gulf of Maine Times.]

The Institute is an educational program designed to promote youth as environmental stewards of the Gulf of Maine region and its watershed. The Council has provided funding to the IWW projects to underscore the importance of youth education and participation in efforts to maintain and enhance the Gulf of Maine ecosystem.

The public is invited to participate in the Council's Year of the Gulf Celebration. Due to limited space, advanced registration is required. (See the contact information below.)

New Action Plan

As the Gulf of Maine Council drafts its third action plan, covering the years 2001-2006, the organization is collecting and reviewing reports that present findings and recommendations relevant to the Gulf's health and sustainability. The Council is interested in incorporating the efforts and ideas of interested individuals and groups throughout the region, including nongovernmental organizations, educational institutions, researchers, volunteer monitoring groups, and private sector organizations.

If your organization has prepared such reports and they are not listed in the Council's bibliography on the Internet ( html), please forward copies to the Council Secretariat Office. To register to attend the Year of the Gulf Celebration, or to provide information for the action plan, contact Laura Marron at the Council Secretariat Office. Call (603) 271-8866, fax (603) 271-2867, or E-mail gom_sec@world.

Canada deliberating endangered species law

Ottawa, Ontario - Parliament is considering legislation designed to protect endangered Canadian wildlife from extinction.

Federal Environment Minister David Anderson introduced the legislation in the House of Commons on April 11.

The proposed Species at Risk Act (SARA) would provide the authority to prohibit the destruction of endangered or threatened species and their critical habitat on all lands in Canada. The Act would also provide the emergency authority to list species in imminent danger.

"Canadians want all species at risk protected. By combining incentives with strong legal protections and the ability of the federal government to act alone when necessary, the Government of Canada is creating a workable species protection system that will achieve concrete results," Anderson said.

The proposed legislation complements the roles of the provinces and territories, and proposes to involve landowners, land users, Aboriginal peoples, fishing interests, and citizens in the recovery process.

Covering all wildlife species listed as being at risk and their critical habitats, the Act would, for the first time, legally recognize the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and provide for rigorous, independent, and public scientific assessments. COSEWIC is an independent organization of wildlife experts comprising members from universities and museums, provinces and territories, national conservation organizations, and federal agencies. In the coming year, a new member with expertise in Aboriginal traditional knowledge will be added. The committee reviews status reports to assess the level of risk of extinction for Canada's wildlife species.

Nutrients fouling US coastal waters

Washington, DC - The US federal government, together with state and local agencies, should develop a comprehensive national strategy to combat nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in coastal waters, according to a recent report by the National Research Council of the National Academies.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are naturally occurring nutrients that are critical to support plant life in marine ecosystems. But too much of either nutrient - especially nitrogen - causes an overabundance of phytoplankton and other organisms that use up available oxygen and destroy or drive away other marine life.

The overabundance of these nutrients is causing serious environmental damage in all of the nation's coastal areas, said the committee that wrote the report. Nitrogen makes its way to coastal waters from the atmosphere and upstream watersheds via rivers that have been polluted by agricultural runoff, wastewater treatment plants, fertilizer application, and the burning of fossil fuels.

Photo: Suzy Fried/Gulf of Maine Times
Lighthouse, Tiverton, Nova Scotia

Human activities have more than doubled the amount of nitrogen in the environment globally from 1960 to 1990, according to the report, with the use of synthetic fertilizers accounting for more than half of that growth. In the United States, approximately 20 percent of the nitrogen in these fertilizers seeps into groundwater, rivers, and streams, gradually making its way into coastal waters. Other sources of nitrogen include animal wastes, wastewater treatment plants, and the combustion of fossil fuels. These fuels release nitrogen compounds into the atmosphere that fall in acid rain, adding significant amounts of nitrogen to some coastal waters.

"Excess nitrogen in our coastal waters starts a dangerous chain of ecological events that is exacerbating harmful algal blooms such as red tides, contaminating shellfish, killing coastal wildlife, reducing biodiversity, destroying sea grass, and contributing to a host of other environmental problems," said committee chair Robert Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. "Conditions in many coastal areas are expected to worsen unless action is taken now to reduce nutrient pollution," he added.

Coastal environmental quality could be significantly improved if local and state agencies focused on identifying sources of excess nutrients and reducing their release, the committee said. The report also called for better coordination among the many state, regional, and federal programs already in place.

At a minimum, the committee said, a national strategy should strive to reduce the number of severely damaged coastal areas by at least 25 percent before 2020 and ensure that no other healthy coastal areas become affected.

The committee identified several initiatives to enhance the efforts of coastal and watershed managers in addressing nutrient overabundance, including expanding monitoring and assessment programs to obtain accurate estimates of nutrients in waterways and providing data, information, and technical assistance to state and local coastal authorities.

GOMINFOEX a finalist in award competition

Stockholm, Sweden - The Gulf of Maine Environmental Information Exchange Initiative (GOMINFOEX) was one of 20 finalists in the Stockholm Challenge Award 2000 at press time.

Competing against 100 submissions in the international competition's "Public Services and Democracy" category, GOMINFOEX is an umbrella effort for a number of cooperative programs working on distribution of data and information exchange within the Gulf of Maine region. The two-year-old program helps coastal communities of the Gulf of Maine make the most of available environmental information.

Participants include federal, state, and provincial governments; environmental non-governmental institutes and agencies; university researchers; K-12 educators; and commercial interests including fishermen and environmental contractors.

GOMINFOEX promotes the shared use of environmental information among the various agencies, communities, and individuals with an interest in ensuring long-term sustainable benefits from coastal resources. It attempts to use available technology in innovative ways to allow full participation of all residents in the region.

The Stockholm Challenge Award is a non-profit initiative of the City of Stockholm in partnership with the European Commission. The goal of the global contest is to show how information technology benefits people and society. For more information, visit

CEC seeks comment on biodiversity report

Montreal, Quebec - The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is developing a strategy for the conservation of biodiversity in North America and is seeking public input in the identification of priority issues and regions.

Until July 31, members of the public can review an online report prepared for the CEC by North American biodiversity experts, and then respond to a questionnaire. A link to the report, Securing the Continent's Biological Wealth: Towards Effective Biodiversity Conservation in North America, and the questionnaire can be found at For more information, E-mail: or call (514) 350-4309.

AMC program helps paddlers help rivers 

Boston, Massachusetts - Canoeists can help protect the state's rivers as part of the Appalachian Mountain Club's new AMC Riverwatchers program, supported by a grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust. 

Interested paddlers attend a training meeting where they learn what potential problems to look for while on the water. Participants also receive forms for recording sights or smells they encounter that may be cause for concern about the river's health. 

A "River's Action Guide" - in the form of a durable plastic tag that can be attached to a canoe or kayak - lists conditions that should be reported to local government agencies. These include fish kills; hazardous waste or chemical spills, oil spills, or other liquid contamination; algae blooms or white foam; or trash in the river or on shore. The tag also includes phone numbers for the appropriate agencies to contact if the riverwatcher spots various conditions. 

For more information, call the Appalachian Mountain Club at (617) 523-0655, extension 314 or E-mail

CZC 2000 to include Youth Forum 

Saint John, New Brunswick - Coastal Zone Canada 2000 will address the theme "Coastal Stewardship: Lessons Learned and the Paths Ahead" in a week-long series of events scheduled to take place at the Saint John Trade and Convention Center September 17-22. 

The international conference will be the fourth in the Coastal Zone Canada Association biennial series. Building on the priorities that developed at previous conferences, the discussions will focus on four interrelated sub-themes: Aboriginal Practices, Community-Based Actions, Coastal Health, and Oceans Governance. 

Conference delegates will have the opportunity to focus on case studies and topics to be discussed in consensus circles modeled on Aboriginal "talking circles." The results of those discussions will be presented at later sessions designed to explore issues of particular concern and to develop specific goals and courses of action. 

Other events taking place at the conference include a youth forum, trade show, training workshops, and field trips. 

For more information about CZC2000, visit the conference Web site, or E-mail or call (506) 462-5961.


Join in the Gulf of Maine Council's Discussion Forum

Looking for a Gulf of Maine contact?

Try the Gulf of Maine Contacts Listing