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DISHS Students Investigate Alternative Fishery at Maine Maritime Academy through the Eastern Maine Skippers Program

posted Dec 9, 2013, 3:52 PM by Todd West   [ updated Dec 9, 2013, 4:02 PM ]
Downeast Maine is home to the two most fishing dependent counties on the east coast of the United States. Not only is fishing so important to these communities, lobster makes up over 80% of the total catch! That makes this area precariously dependent on a single species. What would we need to know to diversify and create a new fishery in Maine?

On Monday December 9th, over 40 students from six coastal Maine high schools began designing an alternative fishery for downeast Maine as part of the Eastern Maine Skippers Program. Students worked with researchers from Penobscot East Resource Center and the Department of Marine Resources to begin engineering a trap-based winter flounder fishery. Maine Maritime Academy generously hosted the event through its Discovery Voyage college aspirations program.


As part of the Eastern Maine Skippers Program Winter Flounder Project, students will:

  • study the life history of winter flounder including prey choice, behavior, and habitat preferences,
  • study the current rules that impact the development of a new fishery- including those that provide strict regulation of fishing gear use and design, 
  • apply to the Department of Marine Resources Advisory Council in January to obtain a special license since there is currently no fishery in Maine for winter flounder,
  • engineer a flounder trap to maximize the amount of legal flounder caught and minimize bycatch. 
While designing and field testing the innovative flounder trap technology, students will collect data that will also address the question of whether it is possible to start an economically and environmentally sustainable trap fishery in Downeast Maine. The students will present their findings to Patrick Keliher, Commissioner of Marine Resources, in May.

By investigating the viability of an alternative fishery, students will have an opportunity to learn and practice important skills such as active citizenship, public speaking, interpreting and using data, and applied science and engineering that will prepare them for modern fishing careers as well as post-secondary education. The project will have further application beyond their high school education, however, as students will conduct "real-world" research that fishermen and regulators can use as they seek to sustain the fishing economies which are so important to downeast communities.


About the Eastern Maine Skippers Program:

In 2012, Deer Isle Stonington High School and Penobscot East Resource Center collaborated to create the Eastern Maine Skippers Program. EMSP is a regionalized program which aims to provide aspiring commercial fishermen in schools from North Haven to Eastport the skills needed to be successful fishermen in a time of rapid environmental and regulatory change. A cohort of over 40 students from Vinalhaven, North Haven, Deer Isle-Stonington, George Stevens Academy, Ellsworth, MDI and Narraguagus remain in their schools and collaborate in the program via technology-based "anytime, anywhere" learning. Students also meet in person 3-4 times per year to participate in events such as meetings with the Department of Marine Resources and the Maine Fishermen’s Forum. Schools participating in the EMSP collaborate to provide a wide range of learning opportunities for their students as well as the cohort.








For more information about the Eastern Maine Skippers Program, visit https://sites.google.com/a/dishs.org/msp/eastern-maine-skipper-s-program


For more information on Penobscot East Resource Center, visit http://www.penobscoteast.org


For more information about Maine Maritime Academy visit http://www.mainemaritime.edu.






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