Community Fisheries Network Formed

Fourteen community fishing associations, from Maine to Alaska, are banding together as the Community Fisheries Network to share their knowledge to promote environmental stewardship of local waters and sustained participation in community-based fisheries.

Linda Behnken is the executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka, a charter member of the network announced April 12.

“Strong community groups are the key to well-managed fish stocks and healthy working waterfronts across the country,” Behnken said.

“Having strong community fishing organizations is the best way to nurture and strengthen that connection between people and place,” said Ed Backus, vice president for fisheries at Ecotrust, based in Portland, Oregon, a co-convener of the network.

Other members include the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, Cape Cod Fisheries Trust, Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association, Cape Cod Development Partnership, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Calendar Island Maine Lobster Co., Penobscot East Resource Center, Port Clyde Fresh Catch, Port Orford Ocean Resources Team, San Diego Fishermen’s Working Group, Port of Morro Bay, California, San Francisco Community Fishing Association and Island Institute.

The network issued a statement saying their decision to unite as a network demonstrates the strength of community-based fishing organizations, a classification within the fishing industry that is recognized in national fisheries law, but has been largely overlooked in policy development and management decisions by regional fisheries councils that oversee the nation’s fishing sector.

“We will be working toward positive change in national fisheries policy that recognizes and supports sustained participation by community-based fishermen in coastal fisheries,” said Behnken.

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