STONINGTON — Several groups in Maine are looking for potential sites for an ocean monitoring station off the Down East coast.

The Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) received $3.4 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last month to fund the ocean data work to help the region’s maritime industry.

The nonprofit operates meteorological buoys from Canada to New York and is partnering with several Down East groups to fill observation gaps in ocean-dependent and underserved communities from the midcoast to the Canadian border, said Julianna Mullen, a NERACOOS spokeswoman.

The Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, Passamaquody at Pleasant Point (Sipayik), and the Peskotomuhkati Nation will work with NERACOOS to find potential sites and to help determine the type of monitoring that should occur. That work will take place over the next year.

The Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems is looking for a potential site for an ocean monitoring station such as this meteorological buoy. Photo courtesy of NERACOSS

Once that is complete, NERACOOS will begin the process of acquiring and installing equipment and setting up the data feed.

These types of monitoring stations can give captains real-time conditions or check the acidification of the water for aquaculturists. They also can help track the changes that are happening in the Gulf of Maine due to climate change.

“Regardless of which variables are ultimately selected, the goal is to provide Down East communities with information they can use to make decisions affecting safety and prosperity,” Mullen said of the area in Hancock and Washington counties. “Providing real-time conditions helps mariners know if it’s safe to leave the dock, water quality data are important for public health initiatives/seafood safety and continuing long-term ecosystem monitoring is especially relevant in the face of climate change.”

The award is part of a five-year program that will set up monitoring stations between Boothbay Harbor and the St. Croix River.

The project was one of 11 that received a combined $41 million in funding from NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System office.

More than 40 percent of the U.S. population lives along the coast, and even more rely on the ocean or Great Lakes for their livelihoods, weather and services every day, Carl Gouldman, director of the office, said in a statement.


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