The Maine Department of Marine Resources
(DMR) bears the statutory responsibility to conduct and sponsor scientific
research in order to conserve and develop the marine and estuarine resources
of the state. These resources
include more than 70 species that are harvested commercially, caught by
saltwater anglers, or reared by aquaculture.
The total value of commercial landings was over $323.8 million in
1999, with lobsters, sea urchins, groundfish, shrimp, and scallops having
the highest landed value. An
estimated 362,000 anglers spend in excess of $20 million annually in
Maine’s saltwater recreational fishery as striped bass and other species
have rebounded. The aquaculture
industry continues to grow and is now valued close to $64 million.
Nearly 90 percent of this revenue comes from the sale of Atlantic
salmon, with the remainder from nori, oysters, mussels, trout, and
In the last fifteen years the agency has
faced an explosive demand for its services.
Factors that have contributed to this explosion include:
increased exploitation of traditional fisheries; new fisheries such
as sea urchin and sea cucumber developed in response to the global market; a
huge expansion of federal and interstate management -- now involving more
than 36 Maine species; co-management, and the growth of saltwater
recreational fishing and the aquaculture industry.
All of these factors have resulted in the need for scientific work on
many more species and in more detail than ever before.
The growth and diversification of the aquaculture industry have
pointed to the need to develop the research infrastructure to support the
culture of new species and the development of new techniques. These
developments have placed unprecedented demands on the scientific side of
The DMR’s research and monitoring programs
include coastwide water quality monitoring for the classification of
shellfish growing areas, biotoxin monitoring, sampling commercial catches of
lobsters, sea urchins, shrimp, and herring for inclusion in federal stock
assessments, collecting commercial catch statistics, recreational fisheries
sampling, aquaculture lease investigations, habitat mapping, seaweed
management, oil spill response activities, restoration of anadromous fish
resources to Maine rivers, and fishery independent assessments of marine and
estuarine resources. Research
programs target only a few of the species harvested in the Gulf of Maine,
which hampers the DMR’s ability to manage many species effectively on the
state, interstate, and federal levels.
As the pressure on Maine’s marine resources
continues to increase, it is even more essential to carry out the necessary
research to determine how to maintain a sustainable resource base.
Well-planned fishery management measures require a solid knowledge of
the resource. With
limited resources, DMR focuses on applied research that is focused on what
is harvested, by whom, how, where, etc., for use in fishery stock
assessments, the basis for current single-species management decisions.
However, this approach clearly is severely limited.
It is also important to understand basic life history, ecological
processes, and the physical and climatic processes that impact fish stocks.
Better understanding of these areas is needed to enable the
development of an ecosystem approach to fishery management.
Development and implementation of a
comprehensive research agenda will require input and involvement from the
broad marine science stakeholder community in Maine.
Input from members of the fishing and aquaculture industries, marine
research community, environmental managers, and marine public interest
groups is needed to identify leading fisheries management issues and
determine research and information needs to address these issues.
The goal of this project is to establish and
communicate the State’s fisheries research priorities in order to ensure
that fishery management decision-making processes are based upon the best
scientific and technical information. By
establishing and communicating a shared vision of comprehensive research
needs, the DMR will be able direct internal funding decisions appropriately;
identify and involve potential research partners in the broader marine
science community, including the fisheries and aquaculture industries.
It will also allow DMR to develop quick responses to outside funding
opportunities as they arise.
Bureau of Resource Management
Maine Department of Marine Resources
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