Environmental Influences on Spatial Patterns of Commercial Fishing in New England

Kathy Mills
Posted on: 9/26/2016 - Updated on: 2/28/2020

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Project Summary

The Northeast Shelf marine ecosystem has experienced substantial changes on seasonal, interannual, and decadal time scales. The abundance, distribution, and biological characteristics of marine fish and invertebrates have been affected by both the direct physical changes as well as by changes in lower trophic levels of the ecosystem. In turn, changes in fish and invertebrate populations have shaped fisheries, affecting the time and location at which fishing occurs as well as the effectiveness of management efforts. Credible management advice must move beyond historical baselines to account for recent changes. The goal of this project is to provide regional spatial planners with an understanding of how environmental variability and climate change affect the spatial distribution of fishery resources and fishing patterns in New England and to recommend approaches for capturing this variability and non-stationarity in management efforts. Products will include: (1) a database of current research in the region that is addressing changes in environmental conditions, living marine resources, and fisheries; (2) an analysis and prototype visualization of changes in fishing catch patterns and their relationship to ecosystem conditions; and (3) a synthesis paper that describes the nature of environmental variability and change in the Gulf of Maine and traces the effects on productivity, marine resources, and fisheries. This project is funded by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council.

Key strategies and actions:

  • Evaluate potential of and establish procedures for new commercial and recreational fisheries (e.g., establishment of catch limits, new permitting procedures)


Mills, K. 2016. Environmental Influences on Spatial Patterns of Commercial Fishing in New England. Summary of a project from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute funded by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council. Last updated September 2016.

Project Contact

Kathy MillsAssociate Research Scientistkmills@gmri.org

Affiliated Organizations

GMRI is a neutral, nonprofit organization that catalyzes solutions to the complex challenges of ocean stewardship and economic growth in the Gulf of Maine bioregion. Based in Portland, Maine, GMRI utilizes a dynamic fusion of science, education, and community to affect change from multiple directions while remaining committed to its core principles of objectivity and collaboration.