2008 Annual Report
Gulf of Maine Research Institute

President's Message

People, Passion, Progress
By Don Perkins, GMRI President

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2010 was an extraordinary year for GMRI.  We saw our 50,000th student enter the lab in October. 50,000 Maine students in the 5th and 6th grade, doesn’t matter whether they came from Eastport or Fort Kent or York or Portland, they got here free of charge and had an opportunity to participate in actually doing research in a world class research lab.  This isn’t happening in any other state in the country.  On the fisheries side, we saw the launch of groundfish sectors, which is a radical new approach to managing groundfish.  There was a lot of concern about how it would work and in the first year it really got off to a messy but an incredibly successful start.  We saw the launch of our Sustainable Seafood program, the Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested brand, so now we’re providing a market incentive for sustainable fishing effort.  We saw our impact and our models developed here in the Gulf of Maine start to matter in other parts of the world.  We were asked to help a group, a very innovative group down in Patagonia, Chile develop a business plan for a new marine research institute down there that takes an ecosystem approach.  And last but not least, we rebuilt this pier for the Coast Guard and took the next big step in terms of preparing this site as a magnet to bring together marine science, technology and education organizations from around the state, around the country and for that matter, around the world.

And so it was really, it was an extraordinary year in terms of impact.  What I want to muse a bit about is what’s behind the accomplishments and there are really three things.  One is a place that matters hugely.  The second is a group of people who are deeply capable and diverse and the third is a passion that we all share for the work we do.  We now have about 60 people from all over the world bringing not only their talent but also the networks of their peers they have around the world.  And it isn’t just people inside GMRI, we are also blessed by an array of partners in the fishing community, the environmental community, the state and federal management communities who also are sharing a huge amount of know-how and wisdom with us.  People talk about intellectual capital. Having the opportunity to be here and watch what that really is, it's people that are incredibly talented and dedicated...innovating. And developing new ideas not just for the sake of doing something new but to really solve problems.  

The interesting question is why does it matter?  Why do we do it?  And it’s obviously about the ocean and about this place.  When I look out over the 21st century, I think we’re going to find that the ocean emerges as one of the focal points for environmental concerns, for economic development, it’s an extraordinary resource of healthy protein, fish, of enormous amounts of energy, and a variety of chemistries locked up in the ocean that we’ve just begun to explore. So first it’s about the ocean and about the communities that are here in New England.  We live in an age where technology is really defining, redefining social relationships, redefining what it means to be human for that matter and it’s going to be important to have places that still have roots, and we’re deeply concerned about the coastal community here and how we both sustain the traditions that really made New England special while innovating and flourishing in a very complicated world going forward.  And then it’s about kids. At the end of the day, we’re all here, focused on creating opportunities for the kids who are going to come after us.

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