Wilson, Townsend, Steneck quoted in Free Press article about future of Penobscot Bay

The Free Press quoted several University of Maine faculty members in an article on the future of the Penobscot Bay: James Wilson, a professor emeritus of marine science and economics, David Townsend, an oceanographer, and Robert Steneck, a professor in the School of Marine Sciences. Penobscot Bay has a history of boom-and-bust cycles across different types of resources. Wilson attributes “a serious disorganization of the system” to harvesting of one species after another. “What we’ve done to the ecosystem [in terms of harvesting and pollution] has overpowered the effects of climate change,” said Wilson. Townsend said as a result of interactions related to melting of Arctic ice caps, waters from the Gulf Stream are infiltrating the Gulf of Maine, and that “it’s all very speculative” what impact this could have. The article mentioned a recent Belfast talk by Steneck, “Penobscot Bay: An Ecosystem Colliding with the Anthropocene,” in which he invited the audience to look not to the future of the bay and the effects of climate change, but to the distant past for keys to what shapes the bay, the article states. Steneck said the bay’s ecosystem had been disrupted so significantly that the species diversity of previous eras is difficult to even imagine. Now the bay is closer to a “lucrative monoculture,” according to Steneck, who referred to Maine’s lobster industry as a “socio-economic time bomb.” The future of the bay is uncertain, and even the experts are hesitant to make predictions. ”Those with decades of professional experience studying the bay’s dynamic ecology have themselves more questions than answers,” the article states, thought they have speculations.