On November 23rd and 24th, we hosted a meeting in partnership with Bates College at the Coastal Center at Shortridge, Bates’ field station in Phippsburg, ME. The meeting was funded by our National Science Foundation Field Stations and Marine Laboratories Program planning grant, which we were awarded to develop a strategic plan for the Northeastern Coastal Stations Alliance (NeCSA). Many of the people who attended the September meeting on Hurricane were in Phippsburg. On Hurricane, we focused on the “what” we should be researching in collaboration to understand environmental change in the Gulf of Maine and learning more about the activities of each institution represented.
At the November meeting, we focused on how to go about implementing a shared research program and work together to implement other initiatives such as a shared undergraduate course that travels to the various field stations or a shared artist-in-residence program. We concluded the meeting without outlining a draft proposal for the next grant deadline in early January 2016; however, we did decide to continue working together and that this type of collaboration makes sense. We plan to meet again in February or April 2016.
A number of other, similar initiatives are underway at different geographic scales and with slightly different focuses. The Integrated Sentinel Monitoring Network (ISMN) is an effort that’s been underway since 2012 and involves a much wider range of institutions. ISMN has created a framework within which NeCSA fits. I attended a few of the ISMN’s workshops around this time last year (you can read about it here). The ISMN is in the process of reviewing comments and making changes to their draft implementation plan. They expect to release the final implementation plan in early 2016. At the Maine state level, the Maine Coastal Observing Alliance (MCOA), formed in 2014, is made up of local citizen groups that coordinate water quality monitoring efforts across Maine’s estuaries. They recently released their first report and we’re hoping to discuss with them the potential of Hurricane Island and Rockland Harbor becoming additional sites next year.
It's exciting to see efforts being coordinated at the State and regional level to help us better understand change across the Gulf of Maine! Stay tuned as NeCSA continues to develop!