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Preparing for an Uncertain Fishing Future

Bringing communities together with climate and marine scientists to understand predictive capabilities and information needs 
Report from the Workshop in the Island Institute's Climate of Change Series on December 18, 2014

This past December, the Island Institute held a "Predictive Capabilities Workshop" which brought together over 100 climate and marine scientists, fishermen, and other marine stakeholders to provide practical links between current climate projection work and the real world issues facing Maine's fishermen and coastal communities. Participants learned about climate models and other forecasting methods and also heard perspectives about the issues facing fishermen as they adapt to future changes in the Gulf of Maine. Please check out the final Predictive Capabilities Workshop Report, and visit the Island Institute website to find the workshop agenda, notes from the presentations, and copies of most of the slides shown by presenters. 

One of the major themes coming out of the workshop was: 

"We are going to see surprises, the only certainty is that it is going to be different!" This winter confirmed that! After a very warm fall and early winter, temperatures plummeted at the start of February. In late February and early March, NERACOOS Buoy F at the mouth of Penobscot Bay recorded some of the coldest temperatures in the last 15 years at 150 feet! Thus, after raising the possibility of an early lobster molt this year at the workshop, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute's first official forecast on March 5 predicted a late start to the high-catch summer period. At the same time, in deeper waters offshore, buoys continued to measure unusually warm temperatures. Near shore temperatures have since moderated and a more normal start date for the lobster fishery around the 4th of July is now likely. For updated information on the Maine lobster forecasting model, please visit this GMRI page.

Other interesting observations and predictions discussed at the workshop include the following: 

  • The Gulf Stream is being pushed further to the Northwest, allowing more, warmer saltier water to enter through the Northeast Channel;
  • High resolution climate models project sea surface temperature increases of 2.5 to 3.5 degrees C and bottom temperature increases of 3 to 6 degrees C by 2080; 
  • Salinity levels may increase in the south and decrease in the north; 
  • Sea level is going to continue to rise depending upon ice melt.

For an interesting take on the workshop, check out Rob Snyder's article in the Working Waterfront Newspaper. 

Please contact Susie Arnold at or Nick Battista at with any questions.


Susie Arnold is a marine scientist at the Island Institute in Rockland, Maine where she works primarily on the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine resources and fisheries dependent communities.

Nick Battista is Marine Programs Director at the Island Institute where he is responsible for the development and implementation of a range of marine programs designed to respond to coastal and island community priorities as they evolve over time.

Featured Image of Portland Fish Exchange courtesy of Susan Tompkins, Rising Tide PR