Robert Steneck is a professor of marine biology, oceanography, and marine policy at the University of Maine, whose laboratories include coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea and Indo-Pacific Oceans and kelp forests in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. Steneck’s Pew fellowship supported co-management initiatives for lobster and urchin fisheries in Maine by bringing together science, industry, and fisheries stakeholders to promote collaboration and infuse solid science into management decisions. The overarching goal of Steneck’s project was to infuse ecological approaches into fisheries co-management. He involved graduate students in his work with fishers so the students would learn from the culture of fishers and be able to do the scientific research necessary to manage fisheries. As a result, this collaborative research with fishers has succeeded throughout New England and has received attention nationwide. Steneck’s project was highlighted in the WGBH television special “Fishing for the Future” and in a 2002 article in The Atlantic Monthly entitled “Stalking the American Lobster.” The Maine State Legislature passed a bill establishing the Governor’s Marine Fellows program, modeled after Steneck’s project, to fund students to work with fishers. It was funded by the fishing industry, academic scientists, and state management. Later a federal program called the Northeast Consortium was established to fund scientists to work with the fishing community. In order to reach goals of training a network of future fishery scientists about stakeholder involvement in the scientific process, as well as improving communication between the scientific community and the fishing community, Steneck worked closely with graduate students on studying the sea urchin industry in Maine. As a result, the sea urchin industry proposed marine protected areas for research. One of Steneck’s Pew-funded graduate students went on to become the chief lobster biologist for Maine’s Department of Marine Resources as well as the state’s representative to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and its federal counterpart.
To learn more about Steneck, visit his bio online: http://www.umaine.edu/marine/people/profile/robert_steneck.