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.
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.
Sign up for Friends of Casco Bay’s email list
You’ll stay informed about issues and events involving Casco Bay.
Dear Friends, It has already been three weeks since we gathered with 200 Friends of the Bay to celebrate the career, contributions, and retirement of our longtime Executive Director, Cathy Ramdsell. Cathy’s send-off party, held outdoors at Portland Yacht Services’ boatyard, marked our first in-person event since the onset of… Read more
After 18 years of serving as our Executive Director at Friends of Casco Bay, Cathy Ramsdell retired on September 2, 2021. In honor of Cathy and her leadership, we hosted a celebration on August 26. Cathy arrived to the party by boat. At the event, staff and board shared reflections… Read more
A letter from Cathy: Dear Friends, I have news to share with you today. I have decided to retire. I am elated to have spent the better part of the past two decades serving as Executive Director of Friends of Casco Bay. When I say “the better part of the… Read more