Coastal Studies Center Scholar Keeps a Line on Maine's Fishing Industry

Anne Hayden
Anne Hayden, Bowdoin's newest scholar-in-residence at the Coastal Studies Center.

Story posted October 28, 2004

There are fish. There are those who fish. There are those who study fish. There are those who study those who fish.

And then there's Anne Hayden.

The new scholar-in-residence at Bowdoin College's Coastal Studies Center seems to have a line on all of them. In over 20 years of marine research and policy development she has analyzed fish, worked with Maine lobstermen, studied environmental conservation, and helped develop state policy on a host of marine issues.

Now, she is spreading her net far: She is conducting a sweeping study of resource governance models that may help Maine localities protect - or in some cases, resurrect - their threatened marine resources.

"Now that we're reaching the conditions of scarcity in the marine environment that we have reached on land, I'm looking at developing ways of managing multiple use-conflicts in marine environments," says Hayden. "The sad news is we had to wait until the fisheries collapsed to start looking at these things. But they have the potential to recover, with a fresh look at management."

The marine-policy expert comes by her optimism honestly. She has spent her career trying to create practical dialogues among the many constituents of Maine's marine-resources. When she started out as a research associate at The Bigelow Laboratories in 1980, "the ocean was an area that people essentially took for granted," she says. "There was a misfiring between research and its practical applications ... scientists didn't then have avenues for bringing their information and research to the people it might affect."

"The sad news is we had to wait until the fisheries collapsed to start looking at these things."

In the wake of environmental crises, such as the Exxon Valdez disaster - or more locally, reports of pollution at the bottom of Casco Bay - the oceans began to galvanize public interest and marine-related research took on new importance. A new community of environmentalism was born with the creation of organizations such as the Conservation Law Foundation, Greenpeace, Center for Marine Conservation, and, locally, the Friends of Casco Bay.

Hayden often found herself in the position of "translating" marine research to vested groups, particularly to policymakers in Augusta, where she later worked for the State Planning Office. "A legislator called me up one day and said, 'I just talked to a marine scientist and I couldn't understand a word he said. Can you help me?' That was a big turning point for me."

Hayden realized she had found her niche. She set up her shingle as a marine-resource and policy analyst in 1994 and has spent a decade contributing to marine management - with a special research concentration in Maine's lobster fishery.

Anne Hayden, scholar at Bowdoin's Coastal Studies Center"Maine's fisheries have the potential to recover, with a fresh look at management," says Hayden.

Hayden is somewhat unique among CSC scholars-in-residence in that she already has connections to the College. She has been an adjunct lecturer of Environmental Studies since 2002, co-teaching a course on the Gulf of Maine with DeWitt John, Bowdoin's Thomas F. Shannon Director of Environmental Studies. She also led a group of Bowdoin students in several community-service projects last spring, including research and data collection for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Maine Department of Marine Resources.

"Anne brings a unique and important focus to the Coastal Studies Center," says CSC Director Anne Henshaw. "She is well-connected in the state and well-versed in marine policy, which complements much of the coastal research being done by other Bowdoin faculty members. She also provides an important bridge with many coastal institutions in Maine."

The CSC is an interdisciplinary research center and coastal facility on Orr's Island that supports Bowdoin faculty and student research on coastal issues. Past scholars-in-residence have included an environmental historian, a painter, and a marine biologist.

In her work there, Hayden is trying to develop a model of locally controlled marine-resources that would borrow from successful management strategies for other scarce common-property resources - including groundwater, timber, economic development funds, even rural healthcare delivery.

"We can learn a lot from the delivery of those kinds of programs," she says. "It's a matter of finding the balance between the tremendous assets of the federal government and the knowledge and needs of a local community. In the old days, the federal government would determine controls so that we wouldn't overfish our fisheries, but that top-down approach hasn't worked. The fisheries have collapsed.

"We now have to put into place the kind of local input that you see in land use, where we rely on a hierarchy of federal, state and municipal rules to sort out land-use conflicts. At the local level, we have selectmen, conservation commissions, planning boards, zoning board of appeals, etc., but similar institutions and regulations are missing in the marine environment."

One of Maine's largest governance challenges, Hayden says, is the breadth of users who lay claim to Maine's near-shore waters. "How do you design governance for a bay where there are many stakeholders, not all of whom are easily identifiable? Birdwatchers, sailors, kayakers, recreational fishermen, even just the person in Buxton who never leaves his home but likes to know that Casco Bay is healthy."

Then there are even larger stakeholder conflicts - commercial v. recreational fishermen; aquaculture farmers pitched against environmentalists; proponents and opponents of licensed natural gas ports.

"Various non-profits and state and federal agencies have been wrestling with how to solve such problems," says Hayden, "but it's been mostly on an ad hoc basis. It's time to develop a more effective mechanism for managing multiple-use conflicts on the water."

"The lobster industry ... has the flexibility to manage their resource to their needs. Fishermen can decide if they fish on Sundays or how many traps allowed on a trawl."

Hayden thinks it can be done, and she uses Maine's lobster industry as the perfect example: "The lobster industry has always worked to protect the stocks upon which they depend," says Hayden. "Most recently, they committed to the establishment of seven lobster-zone councils along the coast, which are organized to reflect the differences in the lobster populations in each area. They operate under the umbrella of state and federal laws, but they have flexibility to manage their resource to their needs.

"Fishermen can decide if they fish on Sundays or how many traps allowed on a trawl. Most importantly, they can decide how many fishermen will be allowed to fish within the zone."

Hayden's research comes at a time when the state is considering local mechanisms to help address the complexities of regulating Maine's marine resources. A Bay Management Task Force has been created to examine governance issues, which includes DeWitt John as a member.

"This is a great opportunity to improve decision-making in local waters from Casco to Cobscook and I look forward to contributing to it," says Hayden. "I happen to believe there is no perfect model that will work for every community. The state will have to provide flexibility to each one in determining effective management strategies."

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