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Satellites May Help Track Elusive Whales

NOAA photo

Olivia Pisano, a Ph.D. student in marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, has developed technology that would scan satellite imagery and relay the whereabouts of North Atlantic right whales within hours. “Because they can move so quickly, you can make a decision about one part of the and then have them show up in another part of the Gulf the next day, and so you’re constantly playing this game of catch up,” she said in an interview. Satellites orbiting Earth have views of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of St. Lawrence and can scan large swaths of the whales’ habitat in a relatively short period of time. While satellites have been used to track animals in polar regions, they’ve yet to be recruited in the fight to save North Atlantic right whales. The team at Dalhousie is developing a computer algorithm that would process the satellite imagery, as well as aerial imagery, and determine how many right whales are in the area.

New Hampshire Lobster Company Plans New Brunswick Lobster Holding Facility

Little Bay Lobster of Newington, N.H., is proposing to build a 2,300-square-meter building in Bayside, a small town just north of Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, that can hold as much as 300,000 pounds of live lobster. Jonathan Shafmaster, owner of Little Bay Lobster, says the company has been looking for a spot to set up in New Brunswick for over two years. Little Bay Lobster buys over two million pounds of Canadian lobsters annually, according to Shafmaster, and the majority of the lobsters sent to the proposed Bayside warehouse will come from Canada. Geoff Irvine of the Canadian Lobster Council said such warehouses are common. “There are lots of American companies that have holding facilities all through the Atlantic region and lots of Canadian companies that have shareholdings in American lobster companies,” said Irvine. “So it’s really just an extension of the cross-border lobster business that’s happened forever and will continue to happen.”

Maine Aquaculture Hub Makes Awards

The Maine Aquaculture Hub awarded $216,000 in funding to support five projects seeking to strengthen the aquaculture industry in Maine. The aquaculture sector is an $88.4 million industry in Maine. Recipients of the Maine Aquaculture Hub awards include industry members, sea farmers, and companies that provide goods and services to sea farmers. Awardees will be using funds to address identified barriers to the industry, such as biolfouling and other issues. Recipients are Atlantic Sea Farms, Pine Point Oyster Co., Butterfield Shellfish, Maine Aquaculture Co-op, and Caitlin Cleaver, a University of Maine Ph.D. student.

Massachusetts Grants Program To Foster Offshore Wind Energy Skills

The Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association and the Northeast Maritime Institute will begin enrolling commercial fishermen in a certification course that will qualify them to transport people and supplies to wind turbine sites for the Vineyard Wind project as part of a $1.3 million state grant program. The Massachusetts grants awarded last month will support a broad range of initiatives, including efforts to develop university-level credential programs, train local residents to maintain turbines, and teach tradespeople specific skills needed in the offshore wind industry. “We really need this workforce from top to bottom,” said Jennifer Cullen, manager of workforce and supply chain development for Vineyard Wind, which is slated to be the first major offshore wind project in New England. “We need to ensure that once we get to construction that we have a qualified workforce that’s ready to go.”

Island Institute To Manage Seamaine Project

In early September, the Maine Technology Institute and FocusMaine awarded the Island Institute a $300,000 contract for spearheading an industry-wide roadmap to grow Maine’s marine economy. Under the three-year contract, the Island Institute will serve as program director for SEAMaine, Maine’s Marine Economy Roadmap/Workforce Development Project. The initiative is funded with $2 million previously awarded to MTI and FocusMaine by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. SEAMaine will identify industry needs and opportunities, provide solutions to workforce skill gaps, and recommend investments that create a more resilient marine economy for Maine. “We look forward to working with the Island Institute as they assume this leadership role in managing the myriad processes and partners involved,” said Brian Whitney, president of MTI. “Together, industry leaders will create an economic roadmap and workforce development plan for Maine’s marine economy.”

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