Ted Ames, life-long fisherman and historical fisheries ecology researcher, is a co-founder of Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries and has published peer-reviewed articles on groundfish stock structure, the linkage between prey and groundfish aggregations, and essential fish habitat. In 2005 Ted was awarded a MacArthur Award. He set up and directed Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries’ Zone C Lobster Hatchery and is a member of the Board of Directors. He continues to use his trademark approach of integrating fishery science and fishermen’s knowledge, in his writing and speaking.
In 2011, Ted completed a year as Visiting Coastal Studies Scholar at Bowdoin College. While almost retired from fishing, he still lobsters in his boat the F/V Mary Elizabeth during the summer and fall seasons.
Ames wrote a groundbreaking article “Atlantic Cod Stock Structure in the Gulf of Maine” published in the journal Fisheries in 2004. Ames’ work illustrated that numerous formerly prolific fishing grounds are now devoid of groundfish, and argued that these represent lost population segments of the Gulf of Maine stock. In the years since Ted’s paper was published, “philopatry” or returning to one’s birthplace is recognized as the norm among marine fishes, rather than the exception. Cod and other groundfish return to a very specific place to spawn, year after year, in much the same way that salmon return to their natal rivers to spawn. A codfish that travels many miles in search of food during its lifetime will return to within 100 meters to spawn each year. The fish larvae that this codfish produces may get drawn away by currents, but will return to where they hatched due to natal homing. However, when fishermen from across the Gulf of Maine all descend on these small pulses of fish, the heavy fishing pressure can deplete the local fish populations.
Ted Ames continued his seminal research into the restoration of New England’s depleted groundfish stocks and decimated coastal fishery in a 2010 paper: “Multispecies Coastal Shelf Recovery Plan: A Collaborative, Ecosystem-Based Approach”. He makes the case for creating smaller, contiguous coastal shelf management units, where each unit encompasses the subpopulation of a key species such as Atlantic cod. Each unit would have an inshore core layer encompassing spawning grounds and nursery habitats while providing a limited, small scale fishery for local fishermen using habitat-friendly, selective gear.