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Human Use & Impact


Although we live on land, humans are an integral part of marine ecosystems. Activities like fishing, aquaculture, and offshore energy production alter the abundance of key species and the flow of nutrients. These impacts can ripple through the food web in complex ways. Successful management of marine ecosystems requires understanding these impacts.

While often overlooked, the conditions in the ocean also influence people. For example, as fish distribution and abundance changes, fishermen will change where they fish, what species they target, and what gear they use. These decisions are influenced by the interplay of conditions in the water and the economics, policies, and culture on land.

GMRI’s integrated approach is built to tackle these issues of “coupled natural and human systems.”

We work closely with the fishing industry to develop and test fishing gear and practices that minimize environmental impacts, reduce fuel use, and increase the efficiency of fishing businesses. We are working closely with fishermen and fishery management authorities to develop streamlined electronic data collection systems, including electronic logbooks and camera systems for monitoring fishing activity. We analyze large datasets to understand the how the price fishermen receive for their catch changes with season and with shifts in abundance. We also use computer models to simulate how changes in the water conditions affect when and where species are caught, the economics of the fishery, and the impact of those economics on fishermen.


The Lobsterman

Brian Tripp, lobsterman, Mainer, and family man, shares his experiences on the water and his hopes for the future of the Gulf of Maine. As a partner in our marine research, Brian cares deeply about keeping the fishing industry vibrant today and for the next generation.

Recent Human Use & Impact Projects

Ultra-Low-Opening Groundfish Trawl Development
Human Use & Impact
The goal of this project is to develop a new, ultra-low-opening bottom trawl (ULOT) that minimizes the impact of trawling activity on the recovery of cod...
Off-Bottom Trawl Testing
Human Use & Impact
We propose to test two off-bottom trawls (OBTs) to harvest underutilized, abundant Georges Bank haddock while simultaneously avoiding overexploited fish stocks...
Improving Lobster Trap Selectivity
Human Use & Impact
We will test a simple trap modification that allows the escape of groundfish from the trap without any loss of lobster. This modification entails modification...