Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16Eastern Maine is suffering just such a wicked problem. The bottom has dropped out of many fisheries, an industry that once supported a thriving coastal economy. Fisheries for cod, haddock, flounder and other groundfish collapsed more than 25 years ago; the inshore herring runs that once supported hundreds of sardine packers are gone; and the winter shrimp fishery is closed, a victim of warming waters. Only the lobster fishery is thriving, shoring up what’s left of the coastal economy. Such problems clearly don’t have simple solutions; and they can’t be solved by study- ing the problem and mapping out a series of steps to remedy the situation. With wicked problems, each step taken toward a solution changes the nature of the problem, which must then be considered anew. Restricting fishing on a species that is in decline, for example, shifts fishing effort onto other species with unknown consequences. A new approach is being taken to solve eastern Maine’s complex fisheries problem. A diverse group of organizations, representing economic and community development, environmental preservation, and fisheries conservation, has formed the Downeast Fisheries Partnership, a collaboration focused on rebuilding commercial and recre- ational fisheries. The organizations came together because they each realized they could not be successful in achieving their missions unless groups addressing other aspects of the fisheries problem were also successful. While some strategies are clear, such as replacing culverts that block fish passage, others emerge as conditions change, new information is generated, and groups work together in new ways. For example, recent research indicating the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans is generating calls for a more adaptive approach to fisheries management—one that will allow managers and fishermen to respond to new fisheries, such as black sea bass, and to cope with invasive species, such as green crabs, that thrive in warmer waters. Many of the environmental problems we face today are so-called “wicked” problems, caused by a complex interplay of economic, ecological, and social factors. Consider the overharvesting of fish stocks: a decline in landings has the perverse effect of driving up prices; forage fish that once supported the marine food web are thwarted by dams that in some cases generate clean energy; and the ecological factors that control fish abundance defy simple assessment and management. LESSONS LEARNED FROM LEADING COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING S O LV I N G P R O B L E M S by Anne Hayden Manomet Partnerships for Sustainability • Fall / Winter 2016-17 | 7