Coastal and Marine

LighthouseRead the Draft Recommendations (PDF)

Download the Presentation Slides (PDF)

Meet the Working Group Members

About Coastal and Marine

The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans. As it warms and loses its subarctic characteristics, some species are moving northward and disappearing from traditional fishing grounds, while temperate species from the south invade.

For Maine seafood harvesters, climate change is expected to reduce their regional catches and associated revenue. This will have a ripple effect on the economy. In 2018, commercial fishing employed nearly 30,000 Maine people and was valued at about $637 million.

Climate change also worsens ocean acidity, levels of which have already risen 30 percent worldwide and will continue rising alongside growing greenhouse gas levels. Ocean acidification is already impacting some aquaculture operations in Maine and will increasingly have negative effects on marine organisms that produce calcium carbonate to build shells, such as oysters, scallops, clams, mussels, and sea urchins.

Watch the Coastal and Marine climate strategies:

Sea level rise caused by climate change will have profound effects on coastal communities. By 2050, Maine is likely to see between 1.1 and 1.8 feet of relative sea level rise, en route toward a potential 3 to 4.6 feet by the year 2100. Just a one-foot increase in sea level will lead to a 15-fold increase in the frequency of “nuisance” flooding.

Healthy coastal and marine areas provide important benefits to Maine's people, environment, and the economy. They protect communities from severe storms. They take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere to bury them long-term. Coastal beaches, dunes, salt marshes, and bluffs are likely to experience further erosion, landward movement and land loss due to climate change.

Proposed Strategies

Please note: the summaries below may not reflect the comprehensive details of each proposed strategy, please see the Draft Recommendations file or slides above for a more complete description. 

Support Maine’s lobster and fishing businesses to prepare and respond to changing environments: Closely monitor species and habitat changes. Provide information about ocean temperature, salinity and acidity changes at the local level. Ensure that Maine fishermen are able to access new market opportunities as species move in response to warming waters.

Expand local marketing opportunities for Maine seafood: Support Maine fishermen by promoting Maine seafood products to local consumers.

Continue to grow Maine’s diverse aquaculture sector: Aquaculture offers important economic opportunities for Maine’s coastal communities. While continuing to support resilient wild fisheries, Maine should also take steps to catalyze growth in the aquaculture sector.

Collect scientific data to understand the changes to Maine’s coastal and marine areas: This includes sea level rise monitoring, ocean temperature and acidity data, and information about native and invasive species, so we can better prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Provide clear information and tools about climate change impacts: This is needed to support Maine's coastal communities, seafood harvesters, shoreside businesses, and working waterfronts in their operational decisions, capital investments, and long-range planning. Establish a Maine Seafood Business Council to work with seafood and marine businesses to understand what data they need to respond to climate change and communicate it effectively.

Protect Maine’s working waterfront infrastructure from climate change impacts: Provide technical assistance and funding for municipalities and business owners to plan and invest in working waterfront improvements to prepare for climate effects such as rising sea levels, increased flooding, and large storms.

Store greenhouse gases by conserving and restoring salt marshes and other coastal environments: Salt marshes, seaweeds, and seagrass beds are more effective than even forests for storing carbon. Maine’s approximately 5,000 miles of total coastline provides a unique opportunity to store carbon long-term, while also providing benefits such as protecting ocean water quality, providing important wildlife habitat, protecting coastal properties from erosion and flooding, and providing recreational opportunities.

Promote nature-based solutions to protect coastal communities from climate change impacts: Erosion from rising sea-levels and more frequent big storms harms coastal rivers, shorelines, and coastal and marine habitats. Nature-based solutions provide effective and lower-cost protection while restoring coastal and marine wildlife habitats. Healthy seagrass and tidal marshes act as natural barriers to waves. Restoring floodplains, wetlands, and streams provides effective stormwater management. “Living Shorelines” projects, constructed with plants, oyster shells, and other natural materials, protect against coastal erosion.

After reading these draft strategies, please take a few minutes to tell us what you think, and how you’d prioritize action. Click the icon to take a short survey.


Header photo: Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld