For the past 30 years, Philip Conkling’s life has been grounded by experiences among the 5,000 or so islands in the archipelago of Gulf of Maine. There he has visited more than 1,000 islands, initially for purposes of collecting and analyzing ecological information. As founder and President of the Island Institute, his focus has been to provide strategic, creative and developmental leadership for the organization. He oversees a staff of approximately 35 in the Institute’s publications, marine, education and community development programs and 10 Island Fellows who live and work in isolated and rural coastal communities.

As part of his work, he has traveled extensively on voyages to Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and written extensively on the effects of global warming on coastal villages, fishing fleets and ecosystems of northern regions. In particular, he has been interested in how the changes in the northern North Atlantic will affect marine and coastal life on the islands and coast of Maine. He is the author of several books, including Islands in Time, A Natural and Cultural History of the Islands of the Gulf of Maine (1982, 1999 and an new, expanded edition in 2011) Lobsters Great and Small-How Fishermen and Scientists are Changing Our Understanding of a Maine Icon (2001) and The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change (2011). He also is the editor of From Cape Cod to the Bay of Fundy-An Environmental Atlas of the Gulf of Maine (1995).

At the Island Institute, Philip serves as the publisher of The Working Waterfront, an online and print newspaper about issues and events that matter to those who care about the Maine coast, with an average readership of 55,000.  He is also the lead editor of Island Journal, the Institute’s signature annual publication that celebrates island life in articles, essays, poetry, art and photography.  Philip serves on the board of the Conservation Law Foundation in Maine, has served on the Governor’s Lobster Task Force, and is an Alternate Commissioner on the board of Roosevelt-Campobello International Park.


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