STONINGTON — Several groups across the state are looking for potential sites for an ocean monitoring station Downeast.
The Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) received $3.4 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last month to fund the ocean data work to help the region’s maritime industry.
The nonprofit operates meteorological buoys from Canada to New York and is partnering with several Downeast groups to fill observation gaps in ocean-dependent and underserved communities in the area, said Julianna Mullen, a company spokesperson.
The Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, Passamaquody at Pleasant Point (Sipayik), and the Peskotomuhkati Nation will all work with NERACOOS to find potential sites and to help determine what type of monitoring should occur. That work will take place over the next year.
Once that is complete, NERACOOS will begin the process of acquiring and installing equipment and setting up the data feed.
These types of monitoring stations could give captains real-time conditions or check the acidification of the water for aquaculturists. It could also help track the changes that are happening in the Gulf of Maine due to climate change.
“Regardless of which variables are ultimately selected, the goal is to provide Downeast communities with information they can use to make decisions affecting safety and prosperity,” Mullen said. “Providing real-time conditions helps mariners know if it’s safe to leave the dock, water quality data are important for public health initiatives/seafood safety and continuing long-term ecosystem monitoring is especially relevant in the face of climate change.”
The award is part of a five-year program that will set up monitoring stations between Boothbay Harbor and the St. Croix River.
The project was one of 11 that received a combined $41 million in funding from NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System office.
More than 40 percent of the U.S. population lives along the coast, and even more rely on the ocean or Great Lakes for their livelihoods, weather and services every day, said Carl Gouldman, the director of the office, in a statement.