Applied Research in Economics

The University of Maine at Machias’s applied research in economics focuses primarily on Maine’s natural resource-based economy, especially commercial fisheries, shellfish aquaculture, and outdoor recreation. Assistant Professor Kevin Athearn has set up a series of research projects to analyze the interactions of natural resources with the local economy. UMM students have assisted with research projects by analyzing commercial fishing license data and interviewing recreational anglers.

As Dr. Athearn states, "UMM's location is a natural resource economist's dream. The ocean, rivers, lakes, wild blueberry lands, and forests support a wealth of natural resource-based activities, from lobster fishing, kayaking, and aquaculture to exporting jams and wreaths. It is a wonderful setting for my teaching and research."

Current Research Projects

Washington County Education and Employment Through Sustainable Broadband Adoption (2010-2013).  Assessing impact of broadband and computer technologies on wild blueberry growers and lobster fishermen.  Funded by U.S. DOC, BTOP SBA Program.

A Study of the Social and Economic Capacity of Eastern Maine Fishing Communities: How Can Small-Scale Fishing Communities Participate in Catch Share Programs? (2010-2012).  Socioeconomic study assessing opportunities and barriers for local fishermen to fish for groundfish as depleted stocks recover. Funded by NOAA, Saltonstall-Kennedy Program.

Effects of Man-Made Pollution on Commercially Important Shellfish in Downeast Maine (2006-2012) . Part of the project includes economic analysis of the effects of pollution on shellfish harvesting and the local economy. Funded by the Maine Technology Institute.

Recently Completed Projects

Economic Contribution and Profile of Marine Recreational Fishing in the Cobscook Bay Region (2007) . Estimated the number of saltwater recreational fishing trips, described anglers and their trips, and assessed their economic contribution to the local economy. Funding and support from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Sea Grant, the Center for Tourism Research & Outreach, and the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Final Report

Enhancing Capacity for Economic Research on Marine Industries in Eastern Maine (2006-2007) . Compiled and analyzed data on marine resources and industries in Washington and Hancock Counties. Funded by Maine Sea Grant.

Economic Value of Shellfish Conservation in Maine (2006-2007) . Estimated economic impact of shellfish industry and economic losses from red tide and pollution closures of shellfish areas. Funded by the Davis Conservation Foundation.

Economic Impact of Maine's Shellfish Industry


Economic Losses from Closure of Shellfish Harvesting Areas in Maine


Cobscook Sea Scallops: The Fishery and Markets (2005) . Estimated fishing effort, landings and value, and described market channels and marketing issues for the day-boat scallop fishery in Cobscook Bay. Funding and support from the Maine Community Foundation and Cobscook Bay Resource Center. Final Report

Economic Analysis of Clam Impounding (2005) . Assessed the potential profitability and risk associated with seasonal impounding of soft-shell clams. Final Report

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