Sam Belknap(he,him,his)

Director, Center for Marine Economy
  • Center for Marine Economy

Sam is Director of Island Institute’s Center for Marine Economy, overseeing work on a number of areas including protecting and sustaining Maine’s working waterfronts, advancing electric outboards for Maine’s commercial fleet and expanding aquaculture in Maine.

Prior to joining Island Institute, he served as the executive director of the Herring Gut Learning Center in Port Clyde, and previously managed a lobster wharf and seafood processing facility. Currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maine in Anthropology and Environmental Policy, Sam’s research is focused on understanding leadership and adaptation as it relates to policy in Maine’s lobster fishery. He originally came to Island Institute as a marine consultant in 2014 and 2016, and we are excited to have him back on our team!

Born in Damariscotta and raised on the shores of the Pemaquid Peninsula and the islands of Muscongus Bay, Sam is a trained anthropologist and climate scientist who has been fascinated by how individuals and communities adapt to changing social and environmental circumstances. After ‘running away’ from Maine after high school to experience the U.S. from behind the wheel of a giant baby blue Cadillac, he decided to return to Maine and dedicate his education and career to supporting the coastal communities where he grew up. Before pursuing his Ph.D. studies, Sam earned a M.S. and a M.A. from the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute and Department of Anthropology.

Sam currently lives in Damariscotta with his wife Christina and two sons, where he enjoys cooking dishes from across the globe for friends and family, refinishing and repurposing neglected pieces of wooden furniture, and spending every free moment on the water or the shores of the Gulf of Maine. He is thrilled to be a part of the work the Island Institute is doing every day to empower island and coastal communities and help them lead as examples of sustainability.