Date of Award



© 2020 Zachary B. Gordon

Document Type


Degree Name

Professional Science Master's (PSM) In Ocean Food Systems


Marine Science

First Advisor

Adam St. Gelais

Second Advisor

Zachary Miller-Hope

Third Advisor

Kohl Kanwit


Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) related to marine biotoxins have considerable impacts on coastal communities and have been increasing in size and frequency globally. Maine is recognized as a leader in biotoxin management as it relates to bivalve shellfish, but it has been unclear how current management practices effect the growth of shellfish aquaculture and how they will adapt to future conditions. This research uses a collaborative approach to analyze the current state of biotoxin management in Maine. First, the current management practices in Maine were compared and contrasted with five other states dealing with similar issues. Then, the perspectives of primary stakeholders in the oyster aquaculture industry were investigated through surveys and interviews. Lastly, the interactions specifically between the oyster aquaculture industry and biotoxin management were examined in Casco Bay. Comparative case study results demonstrate that Maine effectively manages biotoxins but is lacking in data transparency and stakeholder engagement. Survey results suggest, oyster aquaculturists in Casco Bay are acutely aware of issues in biotoxin monitoring and are eager to find innovative solutions, as their livelihoods are directly impacted by the closures. An independent HAB network in Casco Bay would be an effective approach to increase stakeholder engagement and transparency around closure decisions. This will require initiative from both the grower community as well as the regulators. A new HAB Network has the potential to build trust between the regulators and oyster aquaculturists, as well as contribute to future HAB research.


Professional Science Masters Thesis

Advisors St. Gelais and Miller-Hope are UNE faculty members; advisor Kanwit works for Maine Department of Marine Resources.