Executive Committee Meeting
Location: Forrest Conference Room, MDIBL
Time and Date: Tuesday, Sept 3, 2013, 1:00-3:00p.m.
In attendance: Jane Disney, Chris Petersen, Shannon Fox and Fiona deKoning in person, Bridie McGreavy and Jordan Bailey on the phone.
Executive Committee Updates:
Jane discussed that the updated Frenchman Bay Plan is up on the website. The updated plan mentions the 610 project, and that each committee will develop results chains for the next draft of the bay plan. In order for the committees to develop results chains, all committees will come together to have another planning session in 2014. We don’t have clear projects yet emerging from each of the committee. For example eelgrass didn’t grow this year, perhaps in part due to green crab impacts, so now invasive species might rise up as the thing the eelgrass committee is working on.
Executive committee members acknowledged Shannon White, who created the updated plan from work during and since our goal-setting session in November 2012.
Benthic Committee Updates:
Shannon summarized the benthic survey she conducted this summer. She and MDIBL summer intern Liz Thompson tallied all the organisms they saw in underwater video of nine different places around the bay. Shannon is still working with video data, trying to get quantify organisms. Charlie Wray, the principal investigator on the benthic survey, will have the videos edited and highlights will be put on website, and added to the interactive atlas.
Shannon is still working with samples from that survey and is hoping to have data analyzed soon. In addition to video, they did benthic grabs and tows with a small dredge. She will be comparing what was found with what William Proctor found in the 1920’s, though his data doesn’t include abundance information.
Jane stated that in addition, Shannon led the pre-restoration survey of Berry Cove and Hadley Point as required by the 5- star restoration grant they received from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Shannon explained that this involved infaunal core surveys, larval collecting, seining, and looking at mussel density. She doesn’t believe the mussel density data is going to be very informative because the randomly thrown quadrats didn’t appear representative.
Jane also mentioned that a lot of phytoplankton monitoring was done this summer, though it doesn’t fit into our conservation targets. Ashley Heinze has helped with that. She’s working at the Community Environmental Health Laboratory at MDIBL 15 hours per week through October. She just received her Master’s in Human Ecology with a concentration in Marine ecology, and has previously worked on algae.
Chris said that for comparing data with Proctor’s only the data obtained by the dredge and grab method should be used, because Proctor recorded small invertebrates.
The group discussed whether some of this work on invertebrate surveys overlaps with the mudflats target since the data were collected from the intertidal zone. Jane and Shannon explained that this was the case only in extreme low tide, and that the larval collectors were moved from where they were originally placed so that they wouldn’t ever be out of the water.
Bridie asked about stakeholders that could be engaged once data are available. Shannon has a list of people that may want to be involved.
Jane added that Charlie Wray wants to be on the committee.
Chris mentioned that starfish had seen a severe decline in population size this summer.
Diadromous Fish Committee Updates:
Chris stated that there was an assessment meeting in April and minutes are on the Frenchman Bay Partners website. He gave an update on the Flander’s stream project: the culvert is done. There was a meeting in July with Claire Enterline, the DMR’s anadromous fish staff person. Minutes will be available soon to put up on the FBPwebsite. Claire is most interested in Jones Stream restoration. Claire is coming to COA in October, and Chris will work with her.
COA has been approached by the Sea-run Brook Trout Coalition, a southern New England group mainly working in Massachusetts and Connecticut, which helps with research on sea-run brook trout. They are working with Maine Inland Fish and Wildlife and UMaine, they are gearing up to do more work in this area and are interested in collaborating with COA. Chris is hosting a small meeting with relevant government agencies in September. Mary Gallagher and Greg Burr from Maine Fish & Wildlife, Bruce Connery from AcadiaNational Park and three COA faculty will discuss how to move forward.
Chris was asked if we have sea-run brook trout in Frenchman Bay watershed. Chris answered to the affirmative. Greg Burr grew up on the island and has extensive knowledge on the streams that have and have had them. Some of these streams are listed in minutes from April meeting. Mary Gallagher did a volunteer fisherman survey to find out where fish were. Both of them are excited to get involved and are coming down on September 12th.
Chris added news from Somes-Meynell Sanctuary’s alewife monitoring . Somes’ stream’s numbers of alewives were way up — 37,000 fish this year. The levels from the ‘60s were in the 50,000 range.
The park is doing a lot of work on fish passage right now. Chris would like to make a link to those projects on our website.
Chris doesn’t know how best to get involved in work with the American eel (elvers) , or if it is appropriate for FBP at this time.
Jane stated that diadromous fish maps in the atlas are frustrating because they don’t display the species. Chris stated that this is in the metadata but he was having trouble getting those data to display. There is a list of revisions he would like COA students to work on. Jane reiterated that getting the diadromous fish species data visible is a priority. Claire Enterline has maps of smelt survey data. She has data from a couple of years and Chris has those maps and data. He would like to make the on-line Atlas pages more interactive, for example by adding the benthic survey videos to particular locations.
Communications Committee Updates:
Jordan stated that there was a communications committee meeting in June where Emma passed on social media responsibilities to Duncan Bailey and newsletter responsibilities to Jordan Bailey. Jordan will be beginning the newsletter shortly. Jane suggested that Jordan could use a lot of the writing she has done this summer in the newsletter, a link to the new bay plan, and stories about anything that has happened since June. Jane added that the www.eelgrassinmaine.org website that Duncan developed, where anyone can report sightings or lack of eelgrass by placing a marker on a collaborative map, is a new and promising method of community engagement.
Mudflats Committee Update:
Bridie updated the committee on the progress of the 610 project. The advisory committee received an update from Paul and Bridie in the middle of July. Bridie and Tom Martin of Hancock County Planning Commission developed the contact which Paul signed. He has met with the DMR’s Hannah Annis and Meggan Dwyer. He provided a summary of that meeting. Paul requested a computer from the joint advisory board which was approved. Dana Smith of Franklin is involved, and is working to see if the town of Franklin will join as a partner. Bridie will be meeting with an undergraduate to explore his possible involvement in the project.
Fiona asked if the meeting with DMR was to talk about the user guide. Bridie answered that it was mainly to align priorities, avoid duplicating efforts, and grow the partnership between the Regional Shellfish Committee and the DMR
Chris noted that the State of Maine Coastal Program is revising Maine Clam Handbook, and that there is potential to put the User’s Guide to Opening Closed Clamflats into that document.
Jane stated that Michelle Mason has now created all the data layers you ever want on closures so people can access them themselves. She has done a much more detailed job of isolating intertidal areas from adjacent lands and islands, and in the past partnership projects, like the economics study that Emma Fox produced for FBP, had trouble estimating clamflat area. Emma’s completed report will be very useful and it is available now on the website, under Documents. (NOTE: The phrase “Economics Report” has been added to the beginning of the link)
The group discussed possible integration with the New England Sustainability Consortium project Bridie’s role in the project is not fully defined yet but expressed interest in identifying ways to integrate efforts. The grant projects will be focusing on clamflat and beach closures, bacterial contamination, complexity around decision-making and communication dynamics.
Opening clamflats may be one of the outcomes. Chris said that this could involve everything from surveys (land use to identify sources of pollution) to working on clam flats and talking to clammers to try to figure out what affects productivity, etc. Jane advised looking at how their projects overlap with FBP strategies. If there are people whose jobs it is to work on these things, we should synchronize our timelines so that these people from the EPSCOR grant can help us achieve FBP goals.
Bridie and Chris are both part of the EPSCOR project, of which the scope is all of New England, with Chris’ work focused on Frenchman Bay.
Eelgrass Committee Update:
Jane said that there was an eelgrass committee meeting in June and the minutes are on the website. It was recognized early on that eelgrass wasn’t coming up. Jordan and Duncan made the www.eelgrassinmaine.org website to gather more information. Jordan reached out directly to kayak guides and summer camps along the coast, and Wolfe’s Neck and Kieve-Wavus got their campers out looking for eelgrass and reported sites. 44 sites were reported in total. Some of the information coming back from reports included Maquoit bay losing 90% of its eelgrass. Eelgrass was also lost in Taunton Bay. Researchers have suggested that the loss of eelgrass could be a natural phenomenon and the green crab explosion may be a major factor. Jane said her lab did exclosure studies.
Jane explained that they don’t think wasting disease is the problem up here. Summer Intern Lukas Thorburn attempted to isolate the wasting disease organisms’ DNA using PCR, but found none, using proven methods. However no positive control could be run because no Labyrinthula zosterae DNA could be obtained. One possibility is to contact labs in Germany. We can’t say for certain that wasting disease is not present, but it looks unlikely. A different pathogen is also a possible cause for the loss.
Green crabs remain a potential contributing factor to the loss of eelgrass. Crab surveys were done using the protocol designed by Brian Beal at Stave Island, Berry Cove, Hadley Point and the bar to Bar Island. It was found that a lot of green crabs do bury into the sediment. There were more at Stave Island and the Bar than at Hadley Point and Berry Cove, which is the opposite of what was expected.
The state conducted a statewide survey last week, in which FBP participated. Chris, Mark Hanscome, George Kidder, and Jane set six lobster traps at Hadley point and 4 at Berry Cove for 24 hours. Shannon and Duncan assisted with the counting. Some traps had over 110 crabs of up to 8 cm in them. What this really means for mudflats and eelgrass is unclear.
Fiona stated that they removed a lot of crabs as part of their mussel harvesting process. Jane said the crabs Chris and Jane collected are being composted. Chris stated that it would be interesting to compare our numbers with the rest of the state’s and believes that there will be more in southern Maine. Fiona also asked about how this compares with other years. Anecdotally Jane is hearing that lobstermen are pulling up more green crabs in their traps this year. A member wondered if bait from lobster traps could be serving as a source of food for the crabs. Crabs may be contributing to bank erosion further south.
This led to a discussion of how to capture the anecdotal observations that we are receiving. There should be a place for this information to go and for people to share those things with us. Several individuals gave examples of recent anecdotal information. Fiona mentioned that jellyfish usually come before the mackerel. This year mackerel came late and the jellyfish didn’t come at all. Chris mentioned this year’s starfish decimation which could be disease related. Jane mentioned that someone studying sand dollars at the lab has noted that their reproductive structures are not forming correctly this year, and that the scientist she works with studying phytoplankton told her that zooplankton are starving. The forum site on the FB website isn’t serving this role, people use www.eelgrassinmaine.org more than they use the forum at www.frenchmanbaypartners.org. One suggestion was that Duncan might be able to develop a system for people to submit more general ecosystem observations. Bridie suggested that this could also be done by connecting with existing platforms which already have a community using them. Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Vital Signs is specifically for invasives, but other observations can be entered. The Phenology Network’s Signs of the Seasons’ only marine organism is Ascophyllum right now. Project Noah wasn’t useful because the search function doesn’t work, but it may in future versions.
Jane noted that multiple people are harvesting rockweed in Frenchman Bay, though that isn’t really on our radar. (Note: see http://seagrassesinclasses.mdibl.org/presenters for contacts we worked with for this year’s Student Marine Science Symposium which focused on Ascophyllum)
Tundi Agardy Visit
Jane told the committee that Tundi Agardy is visiting October 1-3. She would like to offer a smaller workshop with Frenchman Bay Partners on October 2 before her talk at 4 p.m., to develop a plan of how to engage new stakeholders, particularly those in the business and real estate community. Tundi suggested that we might come out of the workshop with a plan that we would announce at the seminar. She can talk about how she got us to a plan and how it compares to different groups she’s worked with in different parts of the world.
The times that would work for those present is 11-1 or 1-3. Chris suggested that the workshop be at 11-1 so that if a smaller group needs to keep working from 1-3, they can. A space would need to be reserved at COA that could hold 20 people. Jane suggested first floor of Turrets.
Others who should be invited to this small workshop could include Joe or Jim from the Regional Shellfish committee, a representative from the Lamoine Conservation Commission, Acadia National Park, and Friends of Acadia. Other suggestions should be sent to Jane.
Jane also asked everyone to think about people to invite to the 4 p.m. talk. She would like to get a representation of people from different communities in the audience. Jane will be doing some individual invitations, and will also send out an invite to all Frenchman Bay Partners. She would like people from Chambers of Commerce around the bay to attend, as well as town liaisons or people to attend in their stead. People from UMaine should be invited. Chris Schwartz expressed interest. Bridie will send Jane a strategic list from the SSI listserv.
Jane is also inviting the board of the Frenchman Bay Conservancy to hear the talk that was given at municipalities.
Jane reviewed some examples of Tundi Agardy’s market-based solutions to marine habitat conservation. One in Florida was that dive shops came on board with coral reef conservation. They charged a fee (one dollar extra per dive?) which goes toward the coral conservation. Her work also involves education to link to people’s livelihoods.
Chris pointed out that Ms. Agardy will be speaking in a room with a 70 person capacity, and probably 40 will be COA students. A lot of people can stand or even sit on the floor. It would be a good idea to ask her if it is ok to film her talk. The executive committee is working out details for her dinner after the talk.
Publishing work from the Frenchman Bay Partners Initiative
Bridie shared her poster “Charting a Course to Shellfish Sustainability: A Collaborative Learning Approach”. She is open to collaborative writing for her corresponding paper. She is looking for recommendations for outlets: journals, academic sites and open access sites.
Jane is interested in collaborative writing with Bridie. She suggested the journal Conservation Letters. Chris is interested and would like to meet with Bridie to go over how he can help. Fiona is also willing to help. Bob might have more a feel from the conservation end of things.
Bridie said that there are several pieces that could come out of this. Jane added that there are pieces that could come out of the committees, and other processes like what Jordan and Duncan have been developing. Processes and methods that result in conservation success can be highlighted. She and Jordan have developed Conservation Action Planning activity for kids, which they’d like to submit to education journals. Jane said that what FBP is doing is unique: grass-roots marine conservation. Jane appreciates having Bridie as a witness to what is evolving here.
Bridie will be presenting her dissertation mid-November. She would like to practice delivering her presentation to some on this committee in advance of that meeting.
MDIBL’s Human and Environmental Sustainability Summit
Bridie added this to the agenda because she wanted to hear Jane reflect on her experience
Jane gave her reaction to the summit: “The other speakers were speaking in broad terms, but they were invited to do that. Frenchman Bay Partners is not in the philosophical clouds. We’re accomplishing these things as regular ordinary people, not as major corporations. Our collective experience is important to people. I identify that as key to success to achieving environmental goals, having the proof in the pudding as early as you can, or being able to move forward while still planning. I gleaned a lot from all of the other speakers. I could see how the broad concepts related to what we were doing on the ground. Some of that language might help us communicate with business partners.”
Chris said that Jane’s talk was a fabulous culmination. He could not have expected anything better around the energy around her talk.
Bridie asked what comes next after the summit. Jane said the Bio lab has and emerging vision. It would like to host annual summits of that type so that there might be some problem-solving workshops where particular environmental problems are tackled by pulling together people with skills in those areas, perhaps hosting multiple meetings throughout the year for resolution of issues.
Chris said that a next step for FBP would be to deconstruct Jane’s talk – what were the core things about the talk and about the project that were most compelling? What were the elements of that, and can we recreate those elements and implement them into problem solving in other venues, being mindful of those things. Jane added that she sees this as what Bridie has been doing this the whole time – studying what is working for us.
Jane said that MDIBL Director Kevin Strange saw one element of success as the way in which the circle of individual contacts broadened. They started with a core stakeholder group and as we moved out into thinking about what method we would use, we drew in a larger circle of people, then when we looked at strategies that we might implement, the circle widened again, and then it condensed into multiple smaller circles, and then those expand. FBP keeps looking at who else needs to be involved.
Bridie suggested this could be described as a sociogram. She would like to do social network analysis at some stage to begin to articulate this process.
Jane said that missing pieces now include more involvement from people that come from outside the bay (to harvest, etc), a few towns, the business community and the state. Jane would really like to see the planning office, the coastal program or DMR involved.
Fiona and Chris said that the state is involved with some of the pieces but will probably not be interested to get involved with the whole vision. The state is already involved in mudflats and diadromous fish at the committee level.
Chris said that town liaisons create new links to new people in towns and locally. We have weak links to them but they have strong links to networks in their communities, including the business communities. He said a big success was the partner / clammer / mussel harvester get-together. There were clear issues, and previously, there wasn’t a venue to talk about them or resolve them. He also suggested that instead of trying to sell someone on a broad vision, the Partners should engage liaisons in individual projects.
Fiona suggested going to the liaisons with questions to find out if there are any issues, and find out if there is any role FBP can play. Jane said FBP could visit towns on an annual or biannual basis. Chris added that FBP could look at projects underway and see where towns are doing similar work, and ask the towns if they are interested in FBP doing work there.
Jane said that having funds for septic replacement would be a real benefit for towns. She attempted to secure funding for that with Washington Hancock Community Agency but did they not receive that grant. Now they are trying to request some of the money the state got from oil companies for leaking oil into groundwater. By making the connection between faulty septic systems and groundwater, they may be able to secure some funding for towns to offer residents for septic repairs. DEP 319 grants are also something to look into for funding mudflats work. (319 refers to the section of the Clean Water Act.) No more than 10% of the grant can fund salary or overhead. A town can write a 319 grant and contract out to groups, but no more than 10% of salaries and indirect costs can be written into these grants. She suggested looking to Hancock, Trenton, and maybe Lamoine to contract work to FBP. If a town has bought into a partnership that has a bay plan, that might help their grant application. She also added that perhaps the business community would be interested in getting the clam flats open.
The meeting adjourned at 3:15p.m.