The people who fish matter. While the ocean is vast, intensive industrial commercial fishing has taken a toll on entire populations of fish and shellfish that coastal communities rely on. In order for these communities to remain economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable, it is imperative that community-based commercial fishermen remain competitive. However, making a living as a community-based fisherman is extremely difficult as they deal with challenges like maintaining access to fish, marketing catch, complying with government regulations, and coping with rapid environmental change. Yet local, sustainability minded fishermen are vital to the future of our local economies, communities, and food systems.
The Community Fisheries Network (CFN) connects community-based commercial fishermen and fishing organizations across broad expanses of the United States to facilitate collaboration, nurture solidarity, and build solutions to shared challenges. We are a learning network of 13 members in Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington. In addition to our members, the Community Fisheries Network has three supporting members - the Community Development Partnership, Ecotrust, and Island Institute.
We work toward a triple bottom line goal of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. We support conservation that leads to long-term viability of the ecosystems from which we derive our livelihoods. Through the Network, we work to make sure fishing communities and the ocean resources they depend on can thrive, and that fishing families can provide sustainable, locally caught seafood across the country.
In 2009, as fishermen reached out beyond their own harbors to other 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 fishermen and community leaders from local ports to help develop their own solutions to common challenges.
During 2009 and 2010, the Island Institute and Ecotrust provided support for community-based fisheries organizations from the West and East Coasts 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 have provided technical assistance in the areas of business-plan development, organizational capacity-building, communications and marketing, and fisheries policy. With continued facilitation and assistance from Ecotrust and support from the Island Institute and all member organizations, Network members are now actively exchanging ideas and sharing successful strategies, as well as challenges, on a regular basis.
Our Sustainability Standards
Community Fisheries Network members developed and adopted a set of triple bottom line sustainability standards that address ecological, social equity, and economic issues. We meet our goals in each area through continuously improving practices and specific strategies to meet the standards. Find out more about our sustainability standards here.
If you have a question about the Community Fisheries Network or would like to inquire about becoming a member, please contact us here.