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Gulf of Maine Times

Vol. 3, No. 2

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Letter to the Editor

Dear Gulf of Maine Times,
Someone just gave me a copy of your Winter 1998 issue (Vol. 2 No. 4), which is excellent.

I have to carp, however, at your arbitrary boundary of the Gulf of Maine watershed map. You show the line coming through the Cape Cod Canal, down Buzzards Bay, through Woods Hole, and into Nantucket Sound, leaving Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands beyond the pale.

Well, folks, if you look at the tidal charts, you'll see the currents flowing from the Atlantic through Vineyard Sound and on through Nantucket Sound and out through the shoals between Cape Cod and Nantucket.

I hope that you'll change your very arbitrary boundaries and include all these islands. Our island certainly should be included if Nantucket is!

Virginia C. Jones
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Editor in Chief Anne Donovan:

The truth is, the boundary line shown on the Gulf of Maine Watershed map that has appeared on page 12 of previous issues of the Gulf of Maine Times was established in a relatively arbitrary fashion. When discussing what the boundary should be, members of the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment agreed that Georges Bank is part of the Gulf of Maine. They then looked at the currents feeding the Bank and determined that some of the waters south of Cape Cod were part of the overall system. They drew a line that would include these currents in the Gulf of Maine, but never really determined the true southern or western extent of where the boundary would lie.

The recently revised official Gulf of Maine Watershed map (see page 12) was developed using a less arbitrary method to determine the extent of the Gulf of Maine watershed. This map considers Cape Cod Bay to be the most southern point of the circulating gyre that is the Gulf of Maine. Consequently, the Cape Cod Bay watershed boundary is the delineation. This boundary cuts along the spine of Cape Cod, placing northern areas in the Gulf of Maine watershed and excluding the rest.

Clearly, with the new map, even less of Massachusetts' coastal waters is considered part of the Gulf of Maine. In truth, however, you are right that the coastal currents at least to the Elizabeth Islands (and probably beyond) are directly connected to the rest of the Gulf. With this in mind, Massachusetts will treat all of its coastal waters and watersheds as part of the Gulf of Maine for planning and implementation of environmental protection initiatives.

Thank you for your astute comments and your interest in the Gulf of Maine.