Managing Our Nations Fisheries 3 Conference in Washington DC

April 10, 2013

Several Network members will be presenting posters at the third annual "Managing our Nation's Fisheries Conference " on May 7-9 in Washington, D.C. Successful community based fishing businesses can help coastal communities preserve their working waterfronts. Our posters will be geared towards the session on "Providing for Fishing Community Stability". A poster made by the Island Institute and Ecotrust will describe the CFN and discuss the need for the National Marine Fisheries Service to aid Network members and other fisheries organizations by providing much-needed guidance on the development of Community and Regional Fishing Associations and associated sustainability plans in catch share programs to ensure equitable access. We'll discuss how the CFN includes fishing organizations that engage in both catch share and non-catch share fisheries, and how we strive to present fishermen and fisheries managers with non-regulatory solutions that help improve the health of the ocean ecosystem and sustain fishermen and their communities.

Community Fisheries Network Abstract:
The Community Fisheries Network (CFN) is a group of 16 community-based fishing organizations and supporting organizations from around the United States that have joined together to address common challenges faced by small-scale fisheries. While the fisheries differ from community to community, members find common ground by sharing information about their work on and off the water, the management challenges they face, and how they can best adapt to change. The goal of the Network is to increase the long-term sustainability of commercial fishing communities by building business-planning acumen, strengthening social networks, and creating economic resilience through expanding markets.

The Network is committed to pursuing 'triple-bottom line' community fisheries sustainability strategies, ensuring that fisheries are ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable for the long-term. Members agree to operate under these principles, and seek to improve practices to meet the standards. Specific goals include improving or sustaining ecosystem and species health, ensuring equitable access to fishery resources, and improving the economic performance of local fisheries businesses and associated community infrastructure.

As the Network develops a national brand and markets for its fish, the underlying triple bottom line standards and metrics tell a story about how the fish, fishermen, and their community are intertwined. Keeping this story with the fish as it moves through the seafood product chain is a key goal for members.

Successful community based fishing businesses can help coastal communities preserve their working waterfronts. By investing in infrastructure, businesses, communities, deckhands and crew, and by engaging in creative marketing, small-scale fisheries across the country can help ensure that there is enough revenue crossing the wharves they rely on to support the long term sustainability of their communities. The National Marine Fisheries Service can aid in this process by providing much-needed guidance on the development of Community and Regional Fishing Associations and associated sustainability plans in catch share programs that provide equitable access. Including fishing communities that engage in both catch share and non-catch share fisheries, the Community Fisheries Network presents fishermen and fisheries managers with non-regulatory solutions that help improve the health of the ocean ecosystem and sustain fishermen and their communities.

Maine Coast Fishermen's Association Abstract:
The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association (MCFA) is a fishermen-led nonprofit organization that identifies and fosters ways to restore the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine's iconic fishing communities for future generations.

The fishermen who formed MCFA came together in response to years of mismanagement and the reduction of fish stocks within the Gulf of Maine. They saw their way of life at risk of disappearing forever. Together, MCFA provides a voice for fishermen fishing in the Gulf of Maine in discussions with the regulatory bodies that govern New England fisheries, and facilitates building strong fishing businesses in the face of changing regulations and a changing environment.

For more than 300 years, Maine's fishing industry and their communities have been the foundation of our cultural identity. Preserving our shared marine heritage requires vibrant communities with a foundation based on strong fishing businesses and healthy fish stocks. Our member fishermen are predominantly groundfish fishermen, but Maine's small-boat fleet cannot rely on groundfish alone. Many fishermen also fish for shrimp, scallops, urchins, tuna, elvers, whiting and lobster, and their individual business plans are as diverse as the harbors they come from.

Through the guidance from the fishermen, MCFA has developed and continues to support the Maine Coast Community Sector. It has also supported the development of Port Clyde Fresh Catch, an industry-led local processing facility and the first community-supported-fishery in the region that directly supports fishermen. Projects also include a National Fish and Wildlife-funded risk pool, which is currently being developed in response to the massive allocation cuts in New England, and ongoing business planning to ensure successful businesses in an ever changing economy.

As stewards of the marine ecosystem, MCFA fishermen promote and advocate for a healthy Gulf of Maine resource while balancing the needs of our fishing communities. MCFA works to achieve these goals through advocacy, education, outreach, and collaborative research projects.

Alaska Marine Conservation Council's Abstract:
Commercial fisheries are an essential economic, social and cultural component of Alaska's coastal communities. However, fresh approaches are needed to ensure viable opportunities for local fishermen given the complex challenges that fishing communities face. We highlight two innovative, triple bottom line initiatives that foster small-scale fisheries, community sustainability and long-term conservation in Alaska.

The first project is in partnership with the Alaska Jig Association and the Community Fisheries Network and aims to capitalize on a new entry-level opportunity for Kodiak's low-impact jig fleet. In recent years, fishery managers created a set aside that allows the fleet to stair-step up to 6% of the total allowable catch for Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska. Jigging has low capital requirements and offers the opportunity to diversify fishermen's portfolios and generate income to facilitate entry into other fisheries. However, with cod prices extremely low, this forward-thinking regulatory measure needs to be solidified with market-side improvements to generate greater economic and social benefits. Our project leverages the fishery's assets, including its local fleet of owner-operators, low ecosystem impact, and potential, to produce high-quality seafood products. We report on our approach to transform the jig fishery into a higher-value enterprise by working with the fleet to create a community fishing organization, develop best handling practices, and generate appreciation in the market for the strong conservation performance and social benefits of the fishery.

The second project is AMCC's Catch of the Season, an annual Community Supported Fishery program that features Kodiak Tanner crab. This social enterprise delivered over 10,000 lbs. of crab within Alaska in 2013 to about 250 households, seven restaurants, and Princess Tour's lodges. Local, conservation-minded fishermen catch the crab for the program and get a price bonus for participating, and proceeds benefit AMCC's work to sustain healthy working waterfronts. The program is building valuable connections between our fishing communities and consumers, restaurants chefs, and businesses. Through a product they can connect to, awareness is growing about the benefits of local seafood and the important role of community-based fishermen in sustaining our coastal economies and providing stewardship of our marine ecosystems.


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