What Mainers on the coast are doing about climate change

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Maine’s waters are warming faster than most parts of the world, and the most immediate effects are being felt by coastal communities that depend on the ocean for their livelihood. Environmental changes are altering the dynamics of traditional fisheries, which represent Maine’s heritage and were valued at $890 million dollars in 2021.

But coastal communities are looking for innovative solutions and technologies to respond to climate change. Many of these projects, such as switching to electric water boats or growing seaweed to absorb carbon dioxide, were shared at the Island Institute’s inaugural Climate Symposium in Portland on Friday.

Scientists at the Maine Climate Council have projected that a dramatic change in ocean temperature is possible within the next 30 years. Since the 1880s, annual sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine have been 48.6 degrees on average, but by 2050 they are expected to be between 52 and 55 degrees.

“That will be such a drastic increase unless we decrease our emissions,” said Susie Arnold, a marine scientist for the Island Institute and member of the Maine Climate Council. “We can still see a rise under decreased emission scenarios, which can be substantial.”

Warmer temperatures are changing the distribution of ocean life, which concerns those who rely on certain species driving Maine’s fisheries.