The New Hampshire coastline has been a highly desirable place to live and work since the early 1600s when European settlers first arrived. The area features two estuaries, the coastline, open ocean and coastal watershed ecosystems that have supported and evolved from fishing, industrial, commercial and residential development pressures. As a result of pollution abatement, fisheries management and ecosystem conservation regulations and activities, the New Hampshire Seacoast has made great strides toward recovering from many historic impacts, yet human activities continue to pose challenges that require scientific study. Tourism, recreational and commercial activities, including fishing, aquaculture and shellfishing, and the quality of life in the seacoast all depend on balancing healthy ecosystems with these increasing demands.
NH’s coastal watershed is home to over 25% of the state’s population, and building resilience requires recognizing the interrelationships among social, environmental, and economic dimensions in coastal communities. While community leaders know their small communities well, they often have limited access to technical, financial, and human resources to deal with complex challenges. Building resilience crosses economic, social, and environmental boundaries. Preserving ecosystems services, safe-guarding and adapting economic and social systems, and recognizing cultural values are key steps for building community resilience.
NH Sea Grant targets research investments to address the most critical issues facing the Seacoast region through large, two-year projects, smaller seed/development projects and collaborative efforts with local partners. Our goal is to provide tools and knowledge to communities and their environmental, resource and public health managers that will inform their decisions on how best to restore and maintain the health of our coastal ecosystems, and to anticipate adaptation and mitigation strategies needed to address new challenges as they emerge.
Alyson Eberhardt, Ph.D.
Coastal Ecosystems Extension Specialist