Island Institute Receives NOAA Excellence Award

ROCKLAND, Maine, Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ --

ROCKLAND, Maine, Feb. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Island Institute has received a NOAA Excellence Award for Coastal and Ocean Resource Management. President Philip Conkling accepted the award in Washington, D.C. today on behalf of the Institute and its 30-plus staff.

The honor, awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, annually recognizes a nongovernmental organization that has made significant contributions supporting coastal or marine resource programs.

Since its creation by Conkling in 1983, the Island Institute has worked to ensure the long-term sustainability of Maine's year-round island and coastal communities by both focusing on the communities themselves and creating awareness of the unique challenges they face. Institute publications such as The Working Waterfront, Inter-Island News, and Island Journal keep these widespread and disparate communities connected to each other and the world. The Institute's Island Fellows Program has placed over 50 young professionals in island communities, and the Institute has provided island students with over $400,000 in scholarships. The Institute has helped communities obtain training and expertise in satellite imagery and geographic information systems (GIS). In 2005, the Institute created the first comprehensive map of Maine's "working waterfront" revealing that only about 20 miles of such access remain along the 5,300-mile coast.

"The Island Institute is recognized as being dedicated to serving the needs of island and coastal communities," said Natalie Springuel, a marine extension associate with Maine Sea Grant. "Their recent project to map waterfront access in all Maine coastal towns has emerged as a fundamental tool for planners, residents, and the fishing industry," said Springuel, who works closely with the Island Institute on waterfront access issues.

One of the founding organizations of Maine's Working Waterfront Coalition, the Island Institute has taken an important leadership role in the Coalition in recent years, said Jim Connors, senior planner with the Maine Coastal Program. "Their work is being recognized nationally in coastal regions concerned with the lost of working access," said Connors. The Institute launched the Affordable Coast Fund in 2007 a new fund that will provide $235,000 in grants to help communities, families, and fishermen acquire property, technical assistance, and professional development.

"They are not afraid to take a chance and try something new to benefit Maine's coastal and island communities," said Hugh Cowperthwaite, fisheries project director with Coastal Enterprises, Inc., who has worked with the Island Institute for the last five years.

"Island Institute staff have an excellent grasp of the issues, offer sound opinions and insights, and work hard as a partner in working waterfront access collaborations," said Dana Morse of Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Maine Sea Grant nominated the Island Institute for the 2008 NOAA Excellence Award.

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