Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries supports a fisheries licensing system that allows fishermen coastal access based on adapting to the changing ecosystem. This is different from the current single-species management approach. We advocate for a system based on stewardship credits — credits that would be accumulated by owner-operated fishermen who participate in the practices of sound stewardship. Credits would qualify individual fishermen to obtain a multi-purpose commercial fishing license.
Determining access based on stewardship facilitates adaptive decision making by creating a culture and system of support for collaboration, communication, and timely data collection. All of these changes are necessary for flexible, multi-species ecosystem-based management.
In partnership with Maine Sea Grant, Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries convened 40 North American fisheries specialists to create Principles for Managing Coastal Fishery Access.
From the workshops, 3 key observations emerged:
- Marine resources are a public trust and decisions regarding their use and management should always include perspectives from the broader public as well as current participants.
- Privatization is irreversible. Participants encouraged Maine to continue its independent, non-privatized management system that could lead to an equitable and effective coastal fishery licensing system that could be replicated.
- Owner-operated licensing is imperative. This motivates personal responsibility and stewardship.