Geography and the Maine Fisheries

Chart of the Maine Coast

Maine fisheries benefit from cool seawater temperatures, shallow water, and both rocky and muddy bottoms. In general, cold water holds more oxygen than warm water and can sustain more marine organisms. Shallow water allows more light to reach the bottom for photosynthesisPhotosynthesis

Process of creating energy (sugar) from light, carbon dioxide and water.
, permitting marine plants, phytoplanktonPhytoplankton

Microscopic plants that live in the ocean, the foundation of the oceanic food chain.
, and zooplanktonZooplankton

Small plankton that feed on other plankton. Often larvae of other species.
, collectively called benthosBenthos

Organisms (plants, animals,and bacteria) that live on or in the sea floor. Familiar examples would be shell fish, crabs, lobsters, sea anemones, sea urchins, sea stars.
, to flourish. These nutrients support fish, which in turn feed other marine animals and humans.

Forces from below the earth’s surface and glaciers in the last Ice Age formed banksBanks

As a nautical term, banks are shallow areas which are often prime fishing grounds.
off North America. The most famous is Grand BankGrand Banks

A large shallow area, rich in fish, located in the North Atlantic off Newfoundland. Publicized by John Cabot's voyage in 1497, this was once perhaps the world's greatest fishing grounds with cod so thick they could be snagged in baskets according to Cabot. The Candian portion of the Grand Banks have been closed to cod fishing as well as the cod fishery along the northern Newfoundland and Labrador coast due to complete collapse of the Northern Cod stock.
, southeast of Newfoundland. Closer to Maine is the large and dangerous Georges BankGeorges Bank

A shallow area rich in fish, located in the Gulf of Maine east of . It separates the Gulf of Maine from the Atlantic. Lying only about 60 miles offshore, it was responsible for the fishery development for Massachusetts and Maine. It is still a productive area, now subject to strict managment rules to sustain and rebuild fish stocks. It is unclear if these are working.
, ninety miles east of Cape CodCape Cod

A landmark for early European explorers, in 1602, Bartholomew Gosnold named Cape Cod for the large number of cod he found off the Cape, on a voyage looking for trading opportunities and fishing grounds. This name was one of the things that attracted the Pilgrims to the Cape in 1620. Cape Cod has been the site of many wrecks of coasting schooners.
. In the Gulf of Maine, smaller banks include Jeffreys Ledge, Platts Bank, Stellwagen Bank, Cashes Ledge, and Fipennies Ledge. The coast of Maine also offers excellent fishing in its many inlets and around its islands.

In the mid-nineteenth century, fleets of fishing schoonersSchooner

A sailing vessel of two or more masts, all fore-and-aft rigged. The Thomas W. Lawson, built in 1902, had seven masts. In comparison to a square-rigged vessel of comparable tonnage, a schooner is better for coastwise sailing.
regularly made summer trips to the rich fishing areas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The shallower waters north of Prince Edward Island and near the Isles de la Madeleine were particularly popular with fishing fleets from Boothbay Harbor and Castine.

The Bank Hand-Line Cod Fishery Schooner The George's Bank Cod Fishery