"There are a lot of coastal communities that have lost their connection with Fishermen. We tried to figure out ways to reconnect them." -Ben Martens, Maine Coast Fishermen Association's Executive Director
Maine Coast Fishermen's Association has made some major strides in coming together as a community and creating sustainable solutions in the local seafood industry. They have put aside their differences to work together to understand the fisheries and to participate in solutions that provide local fish to their community, while allowing fishermen to make a real living. Fishermen captured in these oral histories recall years past when fishing was a lucrative business because catch were bountiful. In their recollection of the abundance, they remind us of the lore of a once vibrant food hub that was perhaps taken for granted.
The collection of narratives comparing what fishermen saw in the past and what they see now traces the decline of our fisheries. However, I believe that somewhere in that narrative of past to present, there are lessons and solutions to how we can better manage our fisheries, provide healthy protein food sources, and work together as a community to foster a thriving economy.
I find so much hope in this project as I interview fishermen from the Santa Cruz harbor, who are being forced out of their livelihoods, see major declines in catches, and face an unsupportive harbor commission that works against communal solutions to utilizing our local food shed. Through stories we can be inspired to change our own narrative. Read about the project here.
Maine Coast Fishermen's Association created the Maine Fishermen's Oral History Initiative, where Maine fishermen share their histories of how the fishing industry has changed over time due to the environment, technology and regulations.