Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Maine Lobsterman: Genius!

You can't help but feel good when you read that a fellow like this has won one of the MacArthur Foundation's $500,000 "Genius" Grants.

Ames, a 66-year-old Vinalhaven native who is both a lifelong fisherman as well as a scientist, was recognized for the research he has done that could help restore depleted groundfish stocks in the Gulf of Maine. The foundation noted that he has "fused the roles of fisherman and applied scientist in response to increasing threats to the fishery ecosystem resulting from decades of over-harvesting."

That refers specifically to a study Ames conducted, published last year in Fisheries, the Journal of the American Fisheries Society, which drew on the memories of past generations of local fishermen to reconstruct the distribution of cod in the 1920s and '30s.

"They gave us incredible information about where and when they were fishing for cod and haddock and where and when those fish were spawning," Ames said. "Up to this point, information of that type was not collected by scientists. It was always unacceptable. We developed a protocol to validate those historical references."

Yes, it is a rarity for a scientist to listen to the people who are working in the fishing industry in Maine. It is even rarer for a scientist to actually be a fisherman. The folks in Stonington must be throwing party after party.

For information on the other 24 recipients, go here.



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