• “Marine Spatial Planning and Commercial Fishing in the Gulf of Maine”

    Ted Ames

    The National Ocean Policy Initiative (NOP) is potentially a great idea. A properly designed  approach with spatial management could dramatically

    reduce the siege of claims and lawsuits brought bycompeting interests and at the same time, a proposed collaborative approach could prevent

    further degradation of fragile coastal ecologies and perhaps reverse the decline of fisheries. Today’s Gulf of Maine has become very crowded when

    compared to its earlier usage. The number and variety of issues confronting the Initiative that need resolution is impressive and a more unified

    approach is needed. However, this raises several questions… Will the political pressure from the several powerful competing interests be so

    overwhelming of fisheries and the marine environment interests will be neutralized? Can the patchwork management structure and relative

    independence of different agencies actually work together collaboratively?  Is it possible to do marine spatial management without ending up simply

    parsing out convenient sites for the most persuasive user groups? Will spatial planning component be used to address the ecological

    issues that increasingly threaten commercial fishing? Or will spatial management continue to fragment and marginalize this remaining small business

    bastion. Will a list of priorities be designed that preferentially preserves critical marine habitats? And will the goal of fishery habitat preservation be

    based on today’s status quo or target the rebuilding of more robust fisheries? The problems confronting fisheries are far more involved than a simple

    debate about which fishing grounds will be used for what. My discussion will explore some of the effects marine spatial planning may have on GOM

    fisheries, how it relates to the current single species management approach and its disconnect from the patchy, multi-scale interactions found in

    marine ecosystems, and consider possible ways to modify management into a more ecologically sound approach that addresses not only the

    ecological needs of the fish, but creates motives for fishermen to support efforts to create sustainable fisheries.

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