We work to keep Casco Bay blue through monitoring the health of the Bay, inspiring residents and businesses to take care of our coastal waters, supporting efforts to reduce pollution, and advocating for strong protections for the Bay. Friends of Casco Bay works to defend the Bay on many fronts: stormwater and sewage overflow remediation, addressing nitrogen pollution, shining the spotlight on coastal acidification, supporting oil spill preparedness, keeping pollution and pesticides out of the Bay, and responding to emerging issues as they arise. You can read more about our work here.
How we work
We are science based
Understanding the science of stewardship is the foundation of Friends of Casco Bay’s credibility. We use scientific data—much of it collected by our staff and our volunteers—to help change practices, policies, and attitudes.
We use our Research Vessel Joseph E. Payne and our other boats to help us collect water quality data, from the ocean floor to the surface of the Bay. We train volunteers to be citizen scientists to help us collect data. We depend on our Continuous Monitoring Station to collect hourly data on the health of the Bay.
We often assist other scientists in their work—surveying essential marine habitats such as eelgrass, identifying sensitive areas vulnerable in the event of an oil spill, and monitoring currents and tidal circulation.
We are on the water
Being on the water is fundamental to our mission and our approach. We maintain a small fleet of vessels to help us in our work.
Our boats are vital to our science efforts. Our Baykeeper boat, the Research Vessel Joseph E. Payne, is outfitted to assist us in collecting water quality data, from the sea bottom to the surface of the Bay. The boat is designed to safely and quickly navigate a 75-mile route around the Bay during the short daylight hours of winter and penetrate ice-choked passages should the need arise.
Our Casco Baykeeper program cannot exist without a boat. As a founding member of Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of more than 400 environmental groups working worldwide, we helped set quality standards to which all Waterkeepers must adhere. A boat is mandatory for every Waterkeeper and must be readily available for advocacy, education, and science.
Being able to jump into a boat at a moment’s notice can help us make a huge difference in the health of the Bay. When we receive phone calls about fish kills or problematic algal blooms, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Research Associate Mike Doan are quick to jump into our Baykeeper boat to investigate.
Our boats provide us with a platform to highlight issues we feel merit media attention. We are able to provide a water’s eye view of problems and opportunities. We escort reporters, film crews, government officials, regulators, other Waterkeepers, and donors around the Bay at any time of year.
Immediately following the Julie N oil spill—Maine’s largest spill which occurred in 1996—our boats allowed us to respond quickly. We were able to assist with cleanup efforts, alert cleanup crews to oil getting past barriers, and help coordinate cleanup activities with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and the oil company responsible for the spill and the cleanup. Our prompt actions on the water helped prevent oil from reaching critical habitats.
We “work with”
We will always come down on the side of what’s best for the Bay, but rather than being adversarial, we prefer to collaborate with community members, local businesses, and decision makers, to find solutions that are both ecologically sound and economically viable.
We value the working waterfront
Our working waterfronts are fundamental to Casco Bay’s character, heritage, and economy. Many of our partners are engaged in maritime occupations, from piloting Casco Bay ferries to mussel farming to managing wharves along the Portland waterfront. We are an active member of Waterfront Alliance, an organization whose members work to protect, transform, and revitalize our harbor and waterfront.
We are pragmatic
Our “work with” approach embraces incremental progress. For example, for more than 25 years we have been prodding and applauding Portland city officials in their efforts to resolve the problem of raw sewage overflows into Casco Bay.
Seeing many sides of an issue helps us work with a wide variety of stakeholders to try to find common understanding and to work toward solutions that benefit the health of the Bay. Listening to diverse points of view, educating key stakeholders about the science of an issue, eliciting changes in behavior, and changing public policy may require lots of strategy, time, and patience.
Celebrating victories, however small, and sharing credit are of paramount importance. We recognize and celebrate progress, even if it is not always at the pace we might like it to be.
We work to improve and protect the health of this special place for everyone.
We are committed to creating a culture and practices that integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into our work.
To work towards that goal, we have been deepening our conversations with one another as a group and as individuals, about the intersections of environmentalism and social justice.
The inequities in our society cannot be separated from the climate crisis, a key focus of our work. Vulnerable and marginalized populations, including black people, people of color, indigenous people, people living in poverty, women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities have disproportionately experienced the brunt of pollution and the effects of climate change. These environmental injustices arise from inequalities and uneven power structures, including structural racism. See more in our full Statement on Environmental Justice.
Friends of Casco Bay knows that protecting the Bay is a group effort, so we work closely with scientists, government officials, businesses, residents, and other partners. Read more about the organizations with whom we work closely as we seek to protect Casco Bay.
Over the past quarter century, we have had many achievements that have improved and protected the health of Casco Bay. You can see our milestones here.
We are honored to have received many awards over the years. You can see them here.
Support Our Work
If after learning about our work, you would like to support our work, please consider making a donation.
News and Press
We know it is important to educate our community about issues that impact Casco Bay. That is why we keep the local media informed of these topics. See recent coverage here.
The organization’s success rely on our financial strength. See more in our financials.
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Member Survey ResultsMay 23, 2023
Dear Friends, Spring is a time of new beginnings. Ospreys are at their nests. Alewives are swimming upriver. At Friends of Casco Bay, spring means the start of a new fiscal year and the start of Water Quality Monitoring season–in fact, this is our 31st year of collecting data on the… Read more
Strategic Plan 2023-2028May 18, 2023
Friends of Casco Bay Strategic Plan 2023-2028 A printable version of this Strategic Plan is available here. Our Mission Friends of Casco Bay improves and protects the environmental health of Casco Bay. How we meet our mission Friends of Casco Bay uses an integrated approach to tackle the largest threats… Read more
New staff: welcome aboard, Sara!May 5, 2023
Friends of Casco Bay is thrilled to announce the hiring of Sara Freshley as our new Community Organizer and Volunteer Coordinator. Sara’s passion for Casco Bay and its communities is lifelong. Growing up on the Maine Coast inspired her to earn a bachelor’s degree in marine science, followed by a… Read more