Restoring the Gulf of Maine: From Headwaters to the Sea

See how The Nature Conservancy takes a big-picture approach to restoring the Gulf of Maine.

To meet the challenges in the Gulf of Maine, The Nature Conservancy is using a holistic approach to change the way the ocean is protected, restored and managed throughout the Gulf of Maine. Here’s a look at how, with your support, our approach extends from the headwaters to the sea.

Rivers need to be clean enough to support healthy habitats and people’s needs for drinking water, irrigation and recreation. By promoting sensible local, state and regional management practices that reduce pollution and nitrogen levels in lakes, rivers and coastal bays, we aim to improve water quality throughout the Gulf of Maine.

Sea-run fish need to move freely between the ocean and freshwater tributaries to complete their life cycles. We remove dams and bad culverts that inhibit migration all along the coast, from the visionary Penobscot River Restoration Project to smaller and important fish passage projects Downeast.

Salt marshes, eelgrass beds, oyster reefs and other coastal habitats provide critical habitat for a variety of fish and waterfowl species. We’re working in places like Great Bay in New Hampshire and Martha's Vineyard, to restore self-sustaining populations of these key habitats.

To help restore fisheries, we’ve purchased groundfish permits, making the quota available to fishermen who are testing more sustainable gear and fishing practices. Rebuilding groundfish stocks will improve the Gulf of Maine’s ecological health while supporting fishing communities.

The ocean is an increasingly busy place, where many uses — from wind and tidal development to shipping traffic to aquaculture — compete for space. As the ocean becomes more crowded, we’re working at the state and federal levels to help ensure that sensitive habitats are protected and conflicts are minimized.