Maine Ocean Study Shows Coasts At Risk Increasing Pressures Cause Need for New Management

Brian Barth Brian Barth

Roger Fleming, Senior Attorney, CLF

Augusta, Maine (January 23, 2007) The Conservation Law Foundation and The Ocean Conservancy today credited Maine’s Land and Water Resources Council for recognizing the need to change Maine’s current ocean and coastal management. The ocean advocacy groups said that overall, the report makes modest, but important, recommendations for protecting Maine’s coastal and marine resources by improving resource management.

Maine’s coastal waters are under increasing pressure from a variety of influences, environmental degradation is increasing, and current management needs to change, according to the final report of a 2-year legislative Bay Management Study. The final report recommends moving towards regional management of nearshore waters, improving coordination among local and state agencies, increasing information used to manage marine resources, and increasing funding for marine resource management.

This report is an opportunity to change how we manage our coastal resources, and engage the communities who depend on them in greater stewardship, said Roger Fleming, senior attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation. We had hoped for stronger recommendations, but the report is an important step towards addressing emerging demands on Maine’s incredible coast and ocean.

While the report discusses the existing Maine Coastal Policies Act, it does not recommend any changes to this law. The current Act is out of date and inadequate. An amended Coastal Policies Act is essential to implement and strengthen the recommendations of this report, according to Susan Farady, program director for The Ocean Conservancy.

Since its passage in 1985, the Act has not been fully implemented nor amended to reflect the 2004 findings of the U.S. Ocean Commission that a comprehensive, ecosystem-based management approach is needed to safeguard our oceans. A bill to amend the Act has been filed by Senator Dennis Damon of Trenton. California and New York have already passed legislation to improve management of their marine resources and Massachusetts is currently considering innovative oceans legislation. Maine’s coastal waters are at risk and are incredibly important to Maine citizens. “We need to act now to change management before it’s too late,” said Farady.

The Bay Management Study, conducted by the Maine Coastal Program and Department of Marine Resources for the Land and Water Resources Council and advised by a stakeholder steering committee, was charged with assessing resource use and investigating new concepts for management. The Study included public meetings along the Maine coast and two pilot projects in Muscongus Bay and Taunton Bay.

A copy of the Bay Management Study can be found by clicking here.

The Conservation Law Foundation works to solve the environmental problems that threaten the people, natural resources and communities of New England. CLF’s advocates use law, economics and science to design and implement strategies that conserve natural resources, protect public health, and promote vital communities in our region. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization. It has offices in Brunswick, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; Concord, New Hampshire; Providence, Rhode Island; and Montpelier, Vermont.

The Ocean Conservancy promotes healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems and opposes practices that threaten ocean life and human life. Through research, education, and science-based advocacy in Washington, D.C., Maine, Florida, California and the Virgin Islands, The Ocean Conservancy informs, inspires, and empowers people to speak and act on behalf of the oceans. In all its work, The Ocean Conservancy strives to be the world’s foremost advocate for the oceans.