Welcome to the State of the Gulf of Maine

Climate change and its effects on humans


Coastal land use and development


Commercial fisheries




Offshore ecosystems and habitats


Invasive species


Toxic chemical contaminants


The Gulf of Maine is a dynamic, changing ecosystem. Bordered by the northeastern United States and the Canadian Maritime Provinces, the Gulf of Maine is one of the largest semi-enclosed coastal seas in North America. It is recognized as one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems with various marine and estuarine habitats, such as salt marshes, seagrass beds, tidal mud flats, underwater rocky outcrops, and kelp beds. Over 10 million people live in the Gulf of Maine watershed. Along its western and northern shores lie the cities and towns of coastal Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The Gulf has supported a long tradition of fishing, marine transportation, coastal development, and recreation, and continues to be a valuable resource for the people who live and work in the region.



The State of the Gulf of Maine Report is a modular, living document made up of a context document and a series of theme or issue papers. The project is not currently active.

  • The context document, The Gulf of Maine in Context (.pdf), provides an introduction to the natural and socio-economic environment of the Gulf of Maine. It provides an overview of the Gulf of Maine, particularly for those readers who are not familiar with the region.
  • The theme papers provide a more in-depth look at important issues within the Gulf, based on priority areas identified by the Council. They were developed incrementally from 2010 to 2016.


Fisheries and Aquaculture


Aquatic Habitats


Emerging Issues


Actions and Responses

Each State of the Gulf theme paper has an “Actions and Responses” section that briefly discusses how the issues highlighted in the paper are being addressed. This section doesn’t list every possible action that is or could be taken. Many other documents—such as guidelines, best management practices, and codes of conduct—have been developed for carrying out activities. Some of these guidelines can be found here.

These links are provided for information purposes and are not endorsed by the Gulf of Maine Council. The linked documents may recommend techniques that do not meet the requirements of Gulf of Maine Council member agencies. They may also contravene regulations in readers’ jurisdictions. Before undertaking activities, readers should check laws, regulations and guidelines in their home jurisdiction. The supporting agencies do not make any warranty or representation, expressed or implied, with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information.

We hope the State of the Gulf reports provide useful information for your endeavours in the Gulf of Maine, and we look forward to your feedback.


The State of the Gulf of Maine Report was coordinated and funded by:



Additional funding and in-kind support was provided by:


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