Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Policy


Heather Leslie & Joshua Stoll

Second Committee Member

Damian Brady

Third Committee Member

Christine Beitl


Coastal oceans are changing and experiencing increased use. The social and ecological benefits of healthy coastal oceans are well documented and include habitats for marine species, storm protection, and recreational opportunities (MEA, 2005). As the impacts of human activities are recognized, questions about how ocean spaces should be used are becoming more common. These questions are complex and involve many tradeoffs. Understanding the values people hold about uses, and how activities and ecosystems overlap, is critical for weighing tradeoffs and improving future management. I use the northeastern U.S. state of Maine to study human interactions with coastal oceans. Maine is biologically productive and hosts commercial fishing, aquaculture, tourism, and renewable energy industries. I explore perspectives about aquaculture development at a statewide scale (Chapter 1), and intersections among scientific literature, human activities, and ecosystems in two estuaries in midcoast Maine (Chapter 2). Understanding these small-scale interactions is important for improving local management and can also provide information for larger-scale conversations. In Chapter 1, I focus on Maine’s aquaculture industry. I use the Q method to describe perspectives about aquaculture held by people who are familiar with the industry, and areas of consensus and disagreement among them. I identified four perspectives: the Aquaculture Optimists, the Aquaculture Anchors, the Aquaculture Historian, and the Aquaculture Agnostics. These groups valued Maine’s marine economy and felt aquaculture could play a role, but disagreed about the scope of the industry and the distribution of benefits. They also had different perspectives about the role of local communities in siting aquaculture farms. Understanding perspectives can contribute to dialogue about the future of the aquaculture industry in Maine and globally. In Chapter 2, I review literature about the Damariscotta River Estuary (DRE) in midcoast Maine. The DRE hosts three research institutions and is heavily studied on diverse marine science-related topics. This literature review supports a participatory mapping project using local ecological knowledge to map the spatial overlaps of shellfish and human use activities in the DRE, as well as observed changes and their causes. Preliminary results from the mapping study are in Appendix E. In the literature review, I describe the publications, their themes, locations, and the years in which they were published. I discuss missing themes and compare our literature review themes to a preliminary analysis of the participatory mapping project interview data. This identifies knowledge gaps about the estuary and highlights areas for future research. The large amount of data provides a valuable baseline for documenting change over time and shows the value of examining literature at an estuary-wide scale.