The Maine Shellfish Learning Network (MSLN) is 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 shellfish landings, increases and changes predation, climate change, water quality, social bias, and limited civic capacity for managing the resource.
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. To help facilitate and support these efforts the MSLN has sought to support and 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 created new spaces for collaboration, which can have a variety of positive impacts on the overall sustainability and adaptive capacity of the Maine soft-shell clamming industry.
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. McGreavy is also 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 diverse collaborations to address complex problems. Her work has been published in an interdisciplinary set of journals including Environmental Communication, Ecology and Society, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and Philosophy & Rhetoric. McGreavy currently serves as President of the National Communication Association’s Environmental Communication Division, an interest group of the largest professional organization focused on communication in the United States. She is also a lead investigator on a National Science Foundation-funded (NSF) project to study and support decision making about the future of dams in New England as well as an National Research Traineeship (NRT) to support conservation leadership. She teaches courses in environmental communication, communication research methods, rhetorical theory and method, and sustainability science. She received a Ph.D. in Communication from the Department of Communication and Journalism at UMaine in 2013.
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. student 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.
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.