Event report from Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Spring 2019
Every year at the beginning of March the Maine Fishermen's Forum is hosted at the Samoset Resort in Rockland. The forum starts on a Thursday and runs through Saturday with seafood festivities, an auction, awards, and industry-focused sessions during the day. The forum also hosts a trade show that displays lobster traps, the latest technologies, engines, fishing gear, and information from organizations and non-profits that support the fishing industry. The Samoset sells out its room during the forum and thousands of fishermen come from all over New England to attend the event.
This year the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association's table was busy with activity. An intern from the University of Maine helped survey fishermen about their concerns about the working waterfront, and a fisherman's wife helped sell t-shirts that support MCFA's working waterfront efforts.
MCFA staff attended sessions that pertained to topics like groundfish quota, scallop fishery management, working waterfront, and updates from the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. Our biggest takeaways were:
It's getting more and more expensive to run a fishing business, and the value of seafood isn't keeping up with the rising expenses.
While the lobster industry has taken some strides to develop new markets, Maine seafood is being undervalued and underloved.
We are struggling to balance new development with traditional industry in our coastal communities.
Working waterfront and aquaculture development are big issues facing our coast that it doesn't seem like there are long-term plans around.
That we need to be empowering the next generation not just to be able to go fishing but to also engage in policy and management.
Those in fishing, farming, and timber have a friend in Rep. Golden. The Congressman recently helped introduce a bill to create a young fishermen's development act to create a grant fund to support education for the next generation of US fishermen. MCFA helped craft the bill through our work with the Fishing Community Coalition in DC
The Fishermen's Forum is a free event and open to the public.