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Sea Grant American Lobster Initiative Receives Second Year of Funding The Maine Sea Grant Program in conjunction with University of Maine scientists announced in September that the second year of the Sea Grant American Lobster Initiative (ALI) received $2 million in federal funding. This is the second year in a row that $2 million was awarded to the ALI; the 2020 funds will be split up among smaller projects. All the research will focus on how lobster is adapting to a changing climate in the Gulf of Maine and in other New England waters. In addition to four Maine organizations that will receive support, the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association will receive $326,556 to invest in lobster monitoring efforts to better understand their early lifecycle.

Feds Deny Application for Portland Dredging Money The federal Department of Transportation in September turned down an application from the city of Portland for funds to help pay for dredging around the city’s piers and wharves. The cost of dredging the harbor and disposing of the waste will run about $30 million. The state, cities of Portland and South Portland, and wharf owners would all contribute, but most of the money would come from the federal government. As much as 25% of the space around piers has been lost because of the silt buildup. The city, fishermen and wharf owners have been trying to get funding for dredging for about 30 years. This year’s application was made under a public works grant program from which Maine received about $50 million, mostly for bridge repairs.

ORPC Signs Agreement With Eastport Ocean Renewable Power Company recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Eastport on a five-year plan to develop a $10-million microgrid primarily powered by tidal generation. The project is an opportunity for ORPC to expand its reach as the company develops a market for ocean- and river-based generation in an industry largely dominated by solar and wind. ORPC first demonstrated its tidal power device in Eastport from 2012 to 2013, at which point the device was removed from the water due to a manufacturing defect. The company has spent the years since improving its designs. Current systems use turbines positioned parallel to the ocean floor and perpendicular to the current, submerged at depths that allow boats to pass above, to generate electricity.

Underwater Gliders Listen for Right Whales Kim Davies, a professor at the University of New Brunswick at Saint John, helped develop an underwater acoustic glider that can monitor for whales, including the endangered North American right whale. It detected two right whales in the Laurentian Channel shortly after being launched earlier this summer. The unmanned gliders move back and forth through the water by changing buoyancy. The glider has a hydrophone sensor attached, which records the sounds of the ocean. A software system then processes the acoustic data and picks out the different whale calls. Two gliders spent the summer in the southern area of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and in the shipping lanes of the Laurentian Channel, which the whales are known to pass through.

DMR Also Listens For Right Whales In collaboration with NOAA Fisheries, Maine Department of Marine Resources deployed acoustic devices to listen for right whales at eight locations inside of state waters along the Maine coast. The sites chosen are the same as those sampled by the DMR in 2010 to enable researchers to compare the data for differences over time. The fixed archival-acoustic recorders continuously detect and record sounds for three months. Then they are retrieved, the batteries refreshed, and the recorded data downloaded before they are redeployed at the same location. This cycle will be repeated four times to obtain a full 12 months of data, which will be analyzed to identify captured sounds, including any calls made by North Atlantic right whales. “We are excited to partner on this project to begin to understand how right whales might use nearshore waters in Maine,” said Erin Summers, lead of the Division of Biological Monitoring and Assessment at DMR. “It is a data gap that has implications for Maine’s fixed-gear fisheries that operate close to shore.”

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