Maine Delegation Announces $1.6 Million Sea Grant Award to UMaine for Research on Atlantic Marine Species

PORTLAND, MAINE—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Jared Golden (ME-02) today announced the award of $1.6 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Sea Grant program to the University of Maine. The grant will fund a research project on Highly Migratory Species in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, which will help to collect data on age, growth, and migratory behavior of tuna and shark species.            


“Maine’s coastal communities depend on Highly Migratory Species fisheries as an economic engine, sustaining and creating jobs as well as driving coastal tourism and recreation year after year,” said Senator Collins.  “In order to better understand and maintain the health of HMS fisheries, more research is needed.  This funding will assist researchers at UMaine as they work with partner institutions to fill the knowledge gaps about the history and biology of HMS fisheries.”


“The Gulf of Maine is an integral part of our state’s identity and economy, which is why it is vital that we deepen our understanding of the marine ecosystems it contains – particularly as it is warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans” said Senator King. “This Sea Grant funding will allow researchers at UMaine to conduct important work that will enhance our knowledge of the species that travel through Maine waters, ensuring we have accurate data as we work to mitigate the impact of climate change on our marine economy.”


“There’s so much we don’t know about what goes on in our oceans, so I’m always excited when researchers have the opportunity to learn more about Maine’s waters and species,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “This funding from Sea Grant will help us to ensure we understand why and how native Atlantic species migrate—which is especially important as the climate crisis hits the Northern Atlantic and the Gulf of Maine.”


“The University of Maine’s innovative research helps support our coastal communities and the Mainers that live and work in those communities. This $1.6 million grant to UMaine through the Sea Grant program will provide important information about the growth and migration of key fish species. Better understanding our fisheries has never been more important as we work with Maine’s fishermen and fishing industry to prepare for the future.” - Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02)


NOAA’s Sea Grant program supports coastal and Great Lakes communities through research, extension, and education in order to create a sustainable economy and environment and promote conservation. The grant was awarded through the 2019 Sea Grant Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Research Initiative and will support the collaboration of researchers from the University of Maine, Nova Southeastern University, Mote Marine Laboratory, and Auburn University. The project has five objectives: HMS Stock Structure and Life History; HMS Bycatch Reduction; Commercial and Recreational Post-Release Mortality; HMS Life Stage Distribution and Habitat; and Offshore Oil Platform Impacts to Biology (Health) and Behavior (Movements) of Yellowfin Tuna. 


Sea Grant’s funding in the FY2019 appropriations bill directed an HMS research initiative focused on the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. All four members of the Maine delegation advocated for Sea Grant’s funding throughout the appropriations process. Senator Collins and Congresswoman Pingree serve on the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, respectively.  In June, Senator Collins co-led a letter in support of UMaine’s grant application, which was submitted in collaboration with Auburn University, Mote Marine Laboratory, and Nova Southeastern University.