The economy of Maine is diversifying and creating opportunities in offshore renewable energy, expansion of fisheries, and growth in aquaculture. In addition, coastal communities and businesses will need to assess and adapt to environmental change. A deeper understanding of coastal and ocean ecology is critical to the success of these economic opportunities. To sustain Maine’s marine industries, we need to know more about how these systems are driven by marine species at the bottom of the food chain, the ecological and economic vulnerability created by introduced and non-native species, and potential shifts in biological diversity. Biological monitoring is a basic tool to understanding system change. Maine’s workforce needs people capable of monitoring the environment to safeguard the natural resources essential to Maine’s economy.
MMA’s Corning School of Ocean Studies newest program, Coastal and Marine Environmental Science, is using two important new technologies to monitor aquatic ecosystems, thanks to funds from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (see story page 17). Students in the program are being trained as marine environmental scientists who can work across academia, conservation, resource management, business, and public policy.
Doctors Steven Baer, LeAnn Whitney, and Kerry Whittaker are professors in the Corning School of Ocean Studies. Together, they wrote the grant request to integrate two new technologies into MMA’s ocean studies curriculum that make it possible to collect more and better information about the ocean.