I study and support communication in Maine’s clamming communities and shellfish co-management system. I work closely with research partners at the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and the Maine Shellfish Advisory Council (ShAC), as well as other shellfish stakeholders across the state and a team of undergraduate and graduate students. I began this focus as part of my dissertation and significantly expanded it as part of my postdoctoral fellowship with the New England Sustainability Consortium’s Safe Beaches and Shellfish Project.
Science Communication and Shellfish Management: Our partners involved in Maine’s shellfish co-management system, and in particular representatives from DMR and ShAC wanted to know how well the shellfish co-management system was working. We brought a communication lens to this interest to ask how communication was shaping co-management activities, such as access to information and the use of science in decision making; shellfish committee organization; the quality of relationships in the context of co-management; and the role of leadership, among other communication-related factors. We attended and observed more than 50 shellfish committee meetings, focusing first on three shellfish programs in Frenchman Bay and then expanding our focus to eleven other programs across the state. We also conducted 42 interviews with people involved in diverse aspects of shellfish co-management, including clammers, shellfish wardens, state biologists, shellfish dealers, and scientists.
This research helped identify how people are defining problems and what, in the face of these problems, may be considered success in co-management. We provided specific communication-focused recommendations for supporting co-management efforts, including strategies to systematically gather information from municipalities to tailor state-municipal partnerships, how to improve and leverage the learning that occurs as part of Shellfish Focus Day, and opportunities for science-based partnerships and to strengthen civic connections with shellfish management. This research is now being used to advance multiple initiatives to improve learning, expand partnerships, and improve linkages between water quality and shellfish science and decision making.
Decision Support System for Water Quality Analysis
Communicating Health and Well Being
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