Non-Technical Description Research through the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET) will contribute to important scientific debates on how to balance the social ecological knowledge gained with local decision-making through its efforts to develop comprehensive, transdisciplinary, coastal marine science that is positioned at the knowledge interface of marine fisheries, ecosystems conservation and restoration. The project is innovative and potentially transformative displaying considerable possibilities for advancing knowledge and discovery about Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture (SEA) within Maine?s coastal social, economic, and environmental nexus. Other coastal regions face problems similar to those in Maine and results could inform sustainable solutions to coastal community and aquaculture problems on a global basis.

Maine develops research and education activities to engage a wide number of constituents. The project will increase public scientific literacy and train a modern STEM workforce. New STEM programs, mentoring, and research opportunities will specifically recruit females, Native Americans, and other minority students. Other initiatives include student internships, innovation workshops and the creation of a statewide collaborative network of faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students working together with stakeholders. Middle and secondary teachers will also be supported to engage in curriculum development. Economic development activities include the creation of Geographical Information Systems maps that identify the risks and carrying capacity for high valued commercial harvest species. The activities strengthen areas noted to be important within the State?s Science and Technology Plan such as workforce training and development in the areas of marine ecology and aquaculture.

Technical Abstract

This project seeks develops SEANET to determine the social and environmental carrying capacities of aquaculture systems in Maine?s coastal bioregions. SEANET is envisioned as a statewide, multi-institutional, academic research network that will advance knowledge and discovery about SEA within coastal Maine?s social, economic, and environmental nexus. SEANET capitalizes on Maine?s diverse Spcio- ecological systems contexts by comparing and contrasting three coastal bioregions, south, midcoast, and downeast, which comprise important research gradients in amounts of oceanic versus freshwater inputs, physical oceanography, degrees of urbanization and nutrient inputs, social-economic demographics, and intensities of fisheries and aquaculture developments. A suite of new buoys and sensors, industrial partnerships and models will be used with existing data to assess and monitor the carrying capacity of these areas for aquaculture species over time. Social research will engage local stakeholders using focus groups, surveys, and interviews and combined with modeling will address perceptions, attitudes and local values related to aquaculture. The project involves many of the institutes of higher education across the state including community colleges as well as local producer groups and state government agencies.

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University of Maine
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