A Unique Approach

Stonington Scallop MeetingResearch done by Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries co-founder Ted Ames and others has demonstrated how valuable fishermen’s knowledge can be to developing a fine scale understanding of fish dynamics. The question is how to engage fishermen, tap their deep knowledge, and bring them into management decision-making that will directly impact their livelihood and communities.

Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries has pioneered the use of an innovative process called Community Fisheries Action Roundtable, or C-FAR (pronounced “see far”) that underlies all our work. Based on principles of grassroots leadership training, C-FAR is a group process of listening, mentoring and building trust so that people with formerly antagonistic relationships can create mutually beneficial solutions to complex problems. C-FAR ensures that local knowledge and community values have a voice in shaping the future of fisheries, and that experience is passed from one generation to the next. Building and supporting fishermen leadership is fundamental to the mission of Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries.

The successful outcomes of Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries’ C-FAR work with Maine’s scallop fishery in 2012 has demonstrated how powerful and transformative this process can be. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has asked Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries to expand C-FAR to other fisheries including urchins, shrimp, and even groundfish.