Anne Hayden is the program manager for Manomet’s Sustainable Economies Program. She joined the science-based sustainability group in 2012 after nearly two decades as an independent environmental consultant working mostly on marine issues. Based out of Mano- met’s Maine office in Brunswick, Hayden coordinates a partnership between nine different groups that form the Downeast Fisheries Partnership, including Manomet, Maine Farmland Trust and the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries. The group’s goal is to work collaboratively to restore regional fisheries.

INSPIRATION? What inspires her work? “I have always been drawn to the ocean. And I have been lucky to live near the shore my entire life.” Is she from Maine? “You can’t ask that out loud! It’s like asking how old I am.” Hayden came to Maine from Massachusetts. “I like to say I am a year-round summer person.” She’d spent time here as a child and in the early ’70s, as a young adult took a job working on an oyster farm on the Damariscotta River for a company called Maritec.

FREE LUNCH: At that point her work experience consisted of an internship at the New England Aquarium. Not exactly preparation for the physical labor entailed with farming oysters. “It was really hard work on the oyster farm.” They built their cages out of wood and netting. Maritec grew European oysters, Ostrea edulis. “Now of course everyone is growing American oysters.” The company wasn’t making much money. “It was competitive, even back then.” But the employees got to eat anything that wasn’t pretty enough to make it to market.

WORKING, WATERFRONT: Maritec ultimately went out of business. “They were a little too far ahead of their time.” Hayden was hooked on working on the water. “I just thought it was cool that people had jobs like that. I had had no idea what it meant to work on the water, to have what so many fishermen have, this connection to the water.” She wanted the same for herself. “I thought, I can make this work.” Or rather, she would make it work. “Because I don’t want to work in an office. That was one of my big takeaways from oyster farming.”

THE SHELL GAME: She became intrigued with the policy side of fishing and moved on to a job at the Darling Marine Center in nearby Walpole. “Which was really supporting aquaculture. Darling is a big reason that the Damariscotta River is the oyster capital of Maine.” At Darling, she was a lab technician for a benthic ecologist who was studying mudflats. “I found that utterly fascinating.” Next she worked for a benthic ecologist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, studying the impact of pollutants in sediments in Casco and Penobscot bays.

APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING: As news came out that Casco Bay was contaminated, Hayden noted how shocked the public was. “People look out on the ocean and to them it is a pristine wilderness. Everyone can tell when their favorite forest has been clearcut. But nobody can look at the ocean and be able to tell when the fish are gone.” It’s the fishermen who typically know what’s going on with the ocean resources, she says. “One of my ongoing interests is getting people to understand that environment is not something that is out there. It’s all around us.”


PEOPLE PERSON: She became involved in pollution prevention while working for Maine Audubon, starting with the 1987 law that made discharging sewage overboard illegal. Around that time she met her husband Martin, then a labor lawyer. (Today he works for Maine Farmland Trust as the nonprofit’s director of development.) She also got to know shellfish harvesters, who were facing closures of the flats because of the impact of sewage. Alan Houston, then a natural resource planner in Brunswick, had an important influence on her. “He got me onto the Marine Resources Committee here in Brunswick.” She saw something happening on Brunswick’s clam flats that surprised her: “The clammers were playing a very big role in managing our resource. All of a sudden I became as interested in the people as the environment itself.”

NO TRAGEDY: She saw the same process playing out in the lobster fishery. “And it is held up globally as an example of a sustainably managed fishery. Most people are familiar with the tragedy of the commons.” (If not, that’s where individuals within a shared resource operate independently rather than for the common good, and in so doing, destroy a resource.) “The lobster and clams and alewives fisheries are proof that the tragedy of the commons doesn’t always happen.”

WICKED GOOD: Manomet’s president John Hagan hired her to coordinate the Downeast Fisheries Partnership, with a mission to work on a wicked problem. Come again? Wicked as in wicked good? “That is a term that sociologists use.” Namely that when there is a complex problem, like say, fisheries decline, there is no one solution, and lots of competing interests. No single organization holds the solution to the problem. “Maine, we get to call it a wicked wicked problem.”

JOB SATISFACTION: “It is really fascinating. I end up being as interested in how this collaboration works as the work we are doing. It is a network; we make collective decisions.” She pulls all the players together to work on those wicked problems. “But mostly, I listen to them talk about what is important to them. Then I write a (grant) proposal and try to fund it.”

STUDENT OF THE SEAS: In the course of her career, Hayden decided to get a masters in environmental studies (from Duke) and is working on her dissertation for a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies. Dissertation topic? “Shared responsibility of management.” And it is not procrastinating that stops her from finishing it. “The problem is that my day job is so interesting and there is so much to do. I love it so much that times goes by when I don’t get to work on it. I do get to apply it, though. A lot of people think about academia as an ivory tower. But I get to see the theories that I am working on play out day to day.”

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

Twitter: MaryPols

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.