Robin Alden + Ted Ames
Robin Alden and Ted Ames have had a profound impact on Maine fisheries over the last four decades. Called one of Maine fisheries’ “power couples,” they each bring different and complementary experience and expertise, joking that they approach problems from opposite directions. Co-founding Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries with Ted Hoskins has been the culmination of this personal and professional partnership. Robin is the founding Executive Director and Ted Ames is a founding Board member and Senior Advisor for the organization.
Robin Alden began her career when she was taking a year off from college, writing for Stonington’s weekly newspaper. What she learned that year has inspired her ever since: (1) Fishing is an important human industry because it sustains communities, provides essential food, and requires for success a healthy environment on land and sea; and (2) Fishermen’s ecological knowledge and participation are essential fishing sustainably.
MCCF is the latest expression of her mission to bridge the gap between fishermen, regulators, and scientists and provide a basis for shared governance. The other institutions she has founded and the policies she has been instrumental in establishing continue to serve the industry.
Robin founded, published and edited the regional trade fishing newspaper, Commercial Fisheries News for twenty years. With Dr. Jim Wilson of University of Maine she was instrumental in starting the Maine Fisherman’s Forum (HOT LINK) and worked with Maine Sea Grant.
Robin served as Commissioner of Marine Resources under Gov. Angus King Jr., 1994-1997. During her tenure she led the establishment of a lobster trap limit and the lobster co-management system. That system includes owner-operator licensing, seven geographic lobster zones, and elected Lobster Zone Councils that provide fishermen with authority over some aspects of lobster management in their area.
Robin served on the New England Fishery Management Council from 1979-1982 and again during her tenure as Maine DMR commissioner.
Later, Robin and Ted were deeply involved with Stonington Fisheries Alliance, a group of fishermen and their wives taking local action to sustain fishing in the face of the complete collapse of groundfish in the eastern Gulf of Maine and their failure to gain federal attention to the situation. Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries emerged from that effort.
Robin’s honors include the 2017 Peter Benchley Hero of the Seas, 2016 White House Champion of Change for Sustainable Seafood, and the Gulf of Maine Visionary and SOURCE Sustainability Innovator awards. She has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Maine.
Ted Ames is, first and foremost, a lifelong commercial fisherman. He is also holds a Biochemistry M.S. from University of Maine and has become a nationally recognized historical ecologist, combining his knowledge and love of the Gulf of Maine with his scientific training. That combination earned him a MacArthur Award in 2005.
Ted grew up fishing in Vinalhaven, ME and has fished commercially since the 1950s: lobstering; groundfishing by tub trawling, gillnetting and dragging; shrimping; scalloping; and shark fishing. Fishing, particularly groundfishing, has been his lifelong passion, and, after college and a stint teaching high school chemistry he returned to it, continuing until stocks collapsed in eastern Maine in the mid-1990s.
Ted then turned his attention to bringing back cod, haddock and flounder to the eastern Gulf of Maine. As part of a Maine Department of Marine Resources effort to restore cod, he interviewed retired fishermen to identify and map old cod and haddock spawning areas. Learning that cod home to their spawning areas like salmon allowed him to map historical fishermen’s interviews from the 1890s and 1920s, from which, in a 2004 paper published in Fisheries, he described that cod in the Gulf of Maine have localized stock groups. This discovery provided scientific evidence that could explain the selective depletion of the fish in eastern Gulf of Maine and scientific support for the importance of local knowledge and stewardship. Since then Ted has continued to publish (HOT LINK to bibliography). His latest work has identified the importance of River herring and river restoration to coastal groundfish stock restoration.
Ted has also been an activist industry spokesman for sustainability as Executive Director of the Maine Gillnetters Association, Stonington Fisheries Alliance, and speaking for river restoration.
In addition to his 2005 MacArthur Award, Ames has an honorary PhD from University of Maine Machais, and was Bowdoin’s 2010 Visiting Coastal Studies Scholar. He has external relationships with the University of Maine, Orono and Bowdoin College.
Ted continues to lobster a small string of traps each summer. He is an elected representative on the Zone C Lobster Council and a member of the national Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee.