History of the Community Fisheries Network

The privatization of fisheries resources began more than 25 years ago in Alaska. As more fisheries become privatized, similar effects have become apparent in harbors around the United States. When the value and quantity of quota increase, the cost of fishing permits rises, and people are less able to afford to enter the fishery. Also, those who participate in the fishery must pay the costs of monitoring and administering the new management system.

For owner/operator small-boat fishermen, this has become a serious challenge, as they – like all small businesses – are hit hardest by regulations that call for one-size-fits-all adjustments. In 2009, as fishermen reached out beyond their own harbors to other small community-based fishing ports around the country, Ecotrust, a nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon, and the Island Institute, a nonprofit based in Rockland, Maine, developed the concept of a Community Fisheries Network that would bring together highline fishermen/community leaders from eight small ports to help develop their own solutions to these challenges.

During 2009 and 2010, the Island Institute and Ecotrust provided support for community-based fisheries organizations from the West Coast and East Coast to meet with each other. Starting in 2011, with support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Fisheries Innovation Fund and private foundations, Ecotrust and the Island Institute were able to provide an increased level of direct technical assistance and support to community fisheries groups, and to convene participants in a more formalized Community Fisheries Network.

Ecotrust and the Institute provide technical assistance in the areas of business-plan development, organizational capacity-building, communications and marketing, combined with an exploration of available local resources, such as the Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). In September 2011, leaders from 12 community fishing organizations came together at the second annual CFN meeting hosted by the San Diego Fishermen's Working Group. With continued facilitation and assistance from Ecotrust and the Island Institute, the two co-conveners, one supporting member organizations, CFN members are now actively exchanging ideas and sharing successful strategies, as well as challenges, on a regularly scheduled basis. The group has developed a set of triple-bottom (environmental, social and economic) sustainability standards that all CFN members have agreed to adopt. To see an outline of the Sustainability Standards, click here.


June 19, 2012
Morro Bay honored for working to preserve fishing industry >>
June 10, 2012
National Ocean Policy vital to Oregon's coastal communities >>
June 4, 2012
Community Fisheries Network members attend first national CSF summit >>
June 4, 2012
Laying a Solid Foundation for Community Supported Fisheries >>
May 21, 2012
Congress, Catch Shares, and the Councils >>
May 11, 2012
Grant will help jig fishermen improve fish sale prices >>
May 8, 2012
Alaska Marine Conservation Council issues new report on ocean acidification >>
May 7, 2012
Know your food, know your fisherman by Chellie Pingree >>
May 4, 2012
Six Community Fisheries Network Organizations Win Grant Awards from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation >>
May 3, 2012
An Alaska fishing community takes care of its own >>
April 25, 2012
Future We Want: Community-driven fisheries >>
April 19, 2012
CFN welcomes Community Development Partnership as a new supporting member >>
April 17, 2012
Ecotrust's Ed Backus to present at upcoming Coastal Pelagic Species Catch Share workshop >>
April 13, 2012
SDFWG's Peter Halmay to speak about San Diego's old and new fishing industry >>
April 11, 2012
A new era in community-based fishing in America begins >>
March 22, 2012
New NOAA-supported West Coast studies to look at models for sustaining America's fishing industry >>
March 03, 2012
Social sciences initiative to study seafood marketing >>
November 9-11, 2011
Second Annual CFN Meeting Held >>