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Assessing Vulnerability and Resilience in Maine Fishing Communities

Assessing Vulnerability and Resilience in Maine Fishing Communities

Maine Sea Grant

This project developed a participatory, place-based approach for assessing the vulnerability and resilience of Maine fishing communities, documenting threats and resources available to respond to those threats. To understand the forces driving vulnerability, Johnson and graduate students Cameron Thompson and Anna Henry worked with community stakeholders to identify opportunities and strategies for improving resilience of fishing communities. They produced a summary report, entitled, “In Their Own Words: Fishermen’s Perspectives of Community Resilience.” 

Once upon a time, Maine fishermen and women harvested a diversity of species, from groundfish and herring to lobsters, clams, shrimp, and scallops, depending on market conditions and resource abundance. Today, Maine’s fishing culture is concentrated in 50 coastal communities and is overwhelmingly dependent on lobster, while regulations have restricted other fisheries. Since 1990, the number of vessels landing groundfish in Maine dropped from 350 to 70. At least 72 groundfish permits have been lost, and dramatic changes in management are imminent, leading Johnson to wonder, “How vulnerable are Maine’s fishing communities? What can be done to improve their resiliency to future change?”

These are the questions that federal fisheries managers must ask when assessing the impact of new rules, yet too often they don’t have the right data to answer the questions. This project developed a participatory, place-based approach for assessing the vulnerability and resilience of Maine fishing communities, documenting threats and resources available to respond to those threats. To understand the forces driving vulnerability, Johnson and graduate students Cameron Thompson and Anna Henry worked with community stakeholders to identify opportunities and strategies for improving resilience of fishing communities.

 

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