MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2005

Ted Ames

Fisherman and Marine Conservation Specialist

Stonington, Maine

Age: 66 at time of award

Published September 1, 2005
Image of Ted Ames

Ted Ames, a long-term, Maine lobster and ground fisherman, has fused the roles of fisherman and applied scientist in response to increasing threats to the fishery ecosystem resulting from decades of over-harvesting. Ames grew up in a fishing family on one of Maine’s remote offshore islands and studied biochemistry at the University of Maine. Having spent several decades of his life at sea, he has witnessed dramatic shifts in the economic landscape throughout the Gulf of Maine, specifically in jobs and shoreside infrastructure. In an effort to address these changes and develop new fisheries management practices for the affected areas, Ames undertook detailed studies of spawning, habitat, and fishing patterns.  His studies, reinforced by a rigorous methodology, draw distinctively from the anecdotal experiences of aging fishermen to map historical patterns and chart the evolution of current conditions. His work paints a scientifically compelling picture of the complexity of the fish population structure in the Gulf and identifies new strategies for individual and institutional marine management in the region. Ames has now established the Penobscot East Resource Center to conduct additional studies of fishing patterns, past and present, and put to further use his trademark approach of combining fishery science and fishermen’s knowledge in the interest of protecting essential fish habitats.

Ted Ames received an M.S. (1971) in biochemistry from the University of Maine, Orono. He is an independent researcher, commercial fisherman, and a founding member of the Stonington Fisheries Alliance. He served as executive director of the Maine Gillnetters Association, as marine resources director for Maine’s sustainable fisheries organization, the Island Institute, as president and laboratory director of Alden/Ames Laboratory, and for many years as an advisor to the New England Fisheries Management Council. He is currently a practicing fisherman and serves as chair of the Penobscot East Resource Center, a community organization that provides support to local groups engaged in marine management and fisheries stewardship.


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