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What are the biggest challenges for the Bay?

Overall, Casco Bay is a healthy and productive system, but our coastal waters face a myriad of threats, including nitrogen pollution, ocean and coastal acidification, climate chaos, and stormwater pollution. As these challenges grow, government resources to tackle these threats continue to decline. More and more work and responsibilities are falling to local organizations such as ours.

What are the biggest threats to the Bay today?

In short, excess nitrogen, ocean and coastal acidification, stormwater pollution, and a lack of government resources to tackle these issues. As local, state, and federal governments’ budgets shrink, we are mobilizing more volunteers than ever to monitor water quality and help clean up our shorelines. As nitrogen pollution and acidification are changing the chemistry of the Bay, we are investigating innovative and collaborative ways to address these issues. As we focus our resources on protecting the health of Casco Bay, we are also continuing to build a resilient organization.

Climate change — Rising sea level, warming water temperature, and ocean acidity all impact our coastal waters. The resulting changes in weather patterns, storm surges, and coastal flooding are impacting our shorelines and Bay. Species shifts, infectious diseases, and invasive predators impact our ocean food web. Changes to our marine resources threaten the harvesting of traditional fisheries and innovations in aquaculture.

Nitrogen and coastal acidification — Nitrogen pollution from land is changing the chemistry of our Bay and putting stress on the health of our marine resources. Nitrogen is necessary for plant growth, but too much can trigger a population explosion of phytoplankton and green seaweeds. The “rise of slime” caused by nitrogen pollution results in mudflats smothered by mats of bright green algae, clam flats closed to harvesters by red tides, and murky waters choking out eelgrass beds.

Oil spills — As a major oil tanker port with a history of a only few major oil spills, we all need to  work to prevent spills and prepare to respond rapidly in the event of a spill.

Dredging — Deepening shipping channels and dredging our working waterfront must be managed to remove polluted sediments that can harm marine life.

Plastic pollution — Plastics are showing up in Casco Bay, from single-use shopping bags to nearly invisible microfibers. These plastics are swept into the ocean from land and off boats. 

We work on all these issues and so much more. We collect data on the health of the Bay and use this science to inform our advocacy and education. You can learn more about all of our areas of work here

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Cover photo: Photograph by Kevin Morris

Read more about the health of Casco Bay:

It Takes a Village

May 20, 2019

Rick Frantz keeps an eye on Casco Bay as he commutes between his home on Great Diamond Island and Andy’s Old Port Pub, the restaurant that he and his wife Jennifer Fox own on the Portland waterfront. When he sees something out of the ordinary, good or bad, he takes… Read more

Whither Wanda?

May 20, 2019

Our trusty pumpout boat Wanda (aka Baykeeper II) kept over 200,000 gallons of raw sewage out of the Bay from 1995 to 2018, siphoning wastewater from the toilets of recreational boats and delivering it to shoreside facilities. After nearly a quarter century of service, it was time for an upgrade.… Read more

Mike and Ivy on the Boat

Casco Bay Matters: Advancing the conversation—and action—on climate change

May 20, 2019

From April through October, our Research Associate Mike Doan and Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca are out on the Bay frequently to monitor water quality, follow up on pollution reports, or meet with partners on issues best understood from view of changes happening in our coastal water temperatures, increasing acidity, and… Read more

launch pumpout boat

You’re invited to our Pumpout Boat Launch Party!

May 20, 2019

On Monday, June 10 as the newest member of Friends of Casco Bay’s fleet will be christened and launched. We hope you will join us at this auspicious event. Read more

Testimony in support (with amendments) of LD 1679: An Act To Establish the Maine Climate Change Council To Assist Maine To Mitigate, Prepare for and Adapt to Climate Change (Governor’s bill)

May 16, 2019

May 17, 2019 Senator Carson Representative Tucker Committee on Environment and Natural Resources c/o Legislative Information Office 100 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333 Re: Friends of Casco Bay and Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification (MOCA) Steering Committee testimony in support (with amendments) of LD 1679: An Act To Establish… Read more

Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Opposition to LD 1505: An Act To Create Consistency in the Regulation of Pesticides

May 1, 2019

May 1, 2017 Senator Paul Davis Representative Danny Martin State and Local Government Committee c/o Legislative Information Office 100 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333 Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Opposition to LD 1505: An Act To Create Consistency in the Regulation of Pesticides Dear Senator Davis, Representative… Read more