The U.S. Attorney for Maine and the U.S. Coast Guard have announced 14 new grants totaling $1.9 to promote the health of the Gulf of Maine.

These awards are bolstered by an additional $3.4 million raised by recipients, bringing to $5.3 million the total contribution for new coastal and marine conservation efforts in Maine.

Funding for the grants resulted from organizational community service payments ordered as part of a criminal penalty imposed upon a shipping company for criminal violations related to deliberate vessel pollution in close proximity to the State of Maine.  The prosecution of the case was made possible through the combined efforts of U.S. Coast Guard resources and the United States Attorney for Maine.

Paula Silsby, United States Attorney, District of Maine, said: “The Gulf of Maine is one of the jewels in the crown of the state’s environmental resources.  The conservation projects funded by these grants represent an important investment in both this great body of water and Maine as a whole.   I am pleased that my office is able to support this important work to sustain the many communities along our coast.”

One of the world's most biologically productive environments, the Gulf of Maine’s marine waters and shoreline habitats host some 2,000 species of plants and animals.  The entire population of Maine — 1.2 million people — lives within its watershed and millions more visit the Gulf of Maine annually.  Its coastal and marine habitat provides home and food for scallops, flounder, urchins and the legendary Maine lobster, as well as migratory waterbirds.   Seals, seabirds and bald eagles are found on its islands.  

The new grants will deliver multiple environmental and conservation benefits, including the protection of one of 87 nationally significant nesting islands for seabirds and a marsh that supports the highest diversity of water-dependent birds of all of the 53 salt marshes in Maine.  The grants also will help reduce disturbance of key nesting beaches for state-endangered, federally threatened shorebirds that breed on sandy beach habitats, and provide for dam removal and installation of a fishway in the Androscoggin watershed.  Another project empowered by the new grants will help educate residents, boaters and students about marine stewardship to protect water quality in Casco Bay; another will engage the lobster industry to collect thousands of derelict lobster traps in 21 ports off the Maine coast.

“Finding new ways to conserve our coasts and oceans is a high priority for the Foundation” said Mike Slattery, Director, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.  “We applaud the leadership shown by the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Coast Guard to direct critical resources to support local conservation to help restore declining numbers of birds and fish and stem loss of habitat in the Gulf of Maine.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud to be a working partner in this funding initiative to galvanize long-term conservation and restoration of habitat in the Gulf of Maine, a place of precious wildlife resources” said Stewart Fefer, Project Leader, Gulf of Maine Program, United States Fish and Wildlife Service.