Sarah Lee’14 (Mathematics and Environmental Studies). Bowdoin College. “Ecological and Economic Recovery and Sustainability of the Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers and their Common Estuary and Nearshore Marine Environments.” Eileen Johnson and John Lichter, advisors.
The Gulf of Maine had once supported an economically thriving fishing industry with fish spawning grounds located within near shore sites. However, through human-induced factors such as over-fishing, industrial pollution, and the creation of dams, many of these fishing grounds collapsed and have not been able to recover despite restoration efforts. This study, conducted using Ted Ames’ data on historic fishing grounds of the 1920s when fish populations were still plentiful, hopes to identify environmental characteristics that correspond to higher abundances of groundfish populations to help support and restore these fish species. Through linear regression calculations using relative abundances and substrate data, we computed seasonal landings of multiple fish species. These calculations provide numerical values of historical catches to compare with current fishery levels to help rebuild the fish biomass within the Gulf of Maine to meet the maximum sustainable yield. Statistical questions such as “what makes a fishing ground a fishing ground?” and “why are some fishing grounds better than others?” were considered when evaluating habitat features. Using programs such as ArcGIS, R, and GeoDa, statistical analysis was conducted to isolate variables, ranging from depth to distance from the nearest historical herring run, that correlate with higher fish abundance levels. This information could be used to inform future management on the ecosystem types fish species need to recover.