The Maine Shellfish Learning Network (MSLN) focuses on building relationships and improving communication between many different participants within Maine and Wabanaki wild clam and mussel fisheries. These communities face a host of pressing issues, including a steady decline in clam landings, increases and changes in predation, climate change, water quality, systemic inequities, social bias, and limited civic capacity for clam conservation.
Harvesters, towns, and community groups across the coast are working to advance solutions to these issues. More than twenty-five coastal communities are installing nets to protect juvenile clams from predators, using citizen science and tidal monitoring to understand factors influencing pollution circulation, working to grow the quahog fishery, conducting applied science to understand clam recruitment patterns, and more. Please see our Project Profiles page for more information on these efforts.
To help facilitate and support these efforts, the MSLN works to strengthen communication by holding formal and informal scoping sessions to better understand people’s perspectives about challenges in the soft shell clamming industry, needs for local-level shellfish project implementation, and to create learning opportunities for cross-scale coordination and adaptation. The learning network has helped to create new spaces for collaboration, contributing to a variety of positive impacts for sustainability and adaptive capacity of the wild soft-shell clamming and mussel fisheries.
THE MSLN TEAM
Dr. Bridie McGreavy is an Associate Professor of Environmental Communication in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of Maine and a Faculty Fellow in the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions. She studies how communication shapes sustainability and justice efforts in coastal shellfishing communities, river restoration and freshwater conservation initiatives, and transdisciplinary collaborations. McGreavy is currently chair of the Science Advisory Committee for the Maine Shellfish Restoration and Resilience Fund, which provides seed grants to shellfish harvesters and municipalities for coastal adaptation efforts. McGreavy is also a lead investigator on the Maine e-DNA Project where her engaged research helps connect multiple forms of knowledge with coastal management for water quality monitoring and sustainable fisheries. Her research has been published in interdisciplinary journals such as Environmental Communication, Ecology and Society, Sustainability Science, and Philosophy and Rhetoric. Her co-edited book, Tracing Rhetoric and Material Life: Ecological Approaches was published in 2018 and advances ecological thinking in communication to support social-environmental justice and sustainability.
Dr. Anthony Sutton is the Community Food Facilitator for the MSLN. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Maine where he focused on Wabanaki food systems. This focus required understanding how community involvement and feedback can shape research to support robust fisheries and healthy communities. He sees a natural extension of his work with the MSLN due to Maine’s local approach to shellfish management. Sutton’s role with the MSLN supports a broad range of identities as shellfish provides economic opportunities and ways to feed Mainers.
Gabrielle Hillyer is the Project Coordinator of the MSLN, and a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Ecology and Environmental Sciences in the National Research Traineeship Program at the University of Maine Orono. Her focus is on the multiple levels of coastal resilience and engaged research, specifically understanding how science can be better communicated to encourage local management changes. Her work spans multiple sectors of the shellfish industry, including presenting at Shellfish Focus Day, working with bucket drifters to help understand water quality issues in Waldoboro, ME and Thomaston, ME, and maintaining a presence at the Shellfish Advisory Council Meetings. She received Master’s of Science for Marine Policy and Oceanography at UMaine in 2019.
B Lauer is the Fisheries Policy Coordinator for the MSLN and an MA student in the Department of Communication and Journalism and the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program at the University of Maine Orono. Her focus is the relationship between governance structures, participatory planning processes and the resilience of social-ecological systems. Originally from the Upper Midwest, B worked in community engagement and outreach in water resources before coming to Maine. Working at a local government unit in Minnesota, she worked to translate the needs of the community and water resources into solution-oriented policies and programs aimed at fostering ecological resilience and supporting community stewardship. She enjoys helping connect people to their local natural resources in a way that enriches a sense of place, sparks curiosity, and deepens care.
We regularly work with graduate and undergraduate students who contribute to network efforts focused on shellfishing. Meet some of the current and past members of our student team:
Victoria Currie is the Undergraduate Research Assistant under Dr. Bridie McGreavy and Gabrielle Hillyer. Victoria began her position in January where she collaborates on projects and presentations for the MSLN. Originally from Merrimack, New Hampshire, Victoria came to UMaine to study Communication and Marketing. While at the University of Maine Victoria found a passion for sustainability and water quality. Post Graduation Victoria hopes to work in a job that allows her to combine her passion of creating engaging communication of water sustainability and marketing.