Anna M. Henry

Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Biology


Yong Chen

Second Committee Member

Teresa R. Johnson

Third Committee Member

James Wilson


Maine fishing communities are suffering from a loss of access to fisheries and infrastructure, regulatory impacts and changes in resource abundance. Through ethnographic research and oral histories with fishermen I examine how these changes have affected the social resilience of fishing communities in Maine. Many fishers have responded to these changes by intensifying their harvesting of American lobster. Chapter one examines the social resilience of the Maine lobster industry focusing on the ability of the industry to respond to recent environmental and market threats. Given the unpredictable nature of these threats I question the current level of resilience in the industry.

Chapter two focuses on the fishing community of Cobscook Bay, Maine. Due in part to less abundant lobster populations than in other areas of Maine, this community relies on a more diverse range of fisheries. Despite this diversity the area suffers from low resilience due to socio-economic conditions, aging fishermen, and continued harvesting pressure from boats from outside the community. I discuss how a system of local management could increase resilience in the community, but this improvement may be limited by the challenges facing the area.

To increase resilience in fishing communities through local management or diversification of species harvested, fine scale stock information is required. This is briefly discussed in chapter three and is particularly true for groundfish in the Gulf of Maine, which are managed at a large scale despite evidence of fine scale stock structure.

Chapters four and five of this thesis discuss the Eastern Gulf of Maine Sentinel Groundfish Survey/Fishery. This cooperative research project collects fine scale information on groundfish stocks in the eastern Gulf of Maine, an area with little commercial fishing effort and limited temporal and spatial coverage of existing fishery independent surveys. Chapter four focuses on the design of the survey. I analyzed data from existing monitoring programs to determine variables that affect spatial distribution of groundfish. Based on this analysis I optimized a stratified random design that would increase the precision of estimates derived from the survey.

The final chapter analyzes results of the Eastern Gulf of Maine Sentinel Groundfish Survey/Fishery to evaluate the survey design and assess trends in stock abundance and habitat use for Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, white hake and cusk. The Eastern Gulf of Maine Sentinel Survey/Fishery is an ongoing monitoring program. As the project continues, the data can be used to learn more concerning fine scale stock structure of groundfish in the Gulf of Maine.


Master of Science in Marine Biology and Master of Science in Marine Policy