The Maine Fishermen’s Forum (MFF) hit the midcoast for the 49th year, with the Samoset hotel selling out within one day of opening for reservations. There was a full tradeshow floor with 120 exhibitors, and the dinner events for all three nights sold out weeks in advance. Maine Coast Fishermen, National Fisherman, and Eaton Peabody sponsored the dinners that previewed the silent auction, the live auction, and the award banquet with a live band.

Over 40 seminars took place over the three days and brought together commercial fishermen, scientists, government, and other stakeholders to collaborate and bring their voices to the table.

Thursday included an all-day offshore wind seminar on the leasing process, with individuals from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and ME and NH Sea Grant, and an all-day shellfish focus for aquaculture farmers and fishermen alike.

We’re here because you fish; you fish because we’re here.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) held its 70th annual meeting on Friday morning, celebrating its historic appeal, continuing to take place at the helm, and directing the industry toward a sustainable future. During the meeting, Maine Department of Marine Resources commissioner Patrick Keliher spoke on behalf of the North Atlantic right whale recently found with chronic entanglements, including Maine fishing rope and the scheduled gauge increase.

“Every right whale that dies is going to be used against you,” Keliher stated during the meeting after sharing that the Maine DMR had $2 million set aside for lawsuits on federal right whale regulations and has already spent $1 million.

The MLA’s policy director, Patrice McCarron, spoke about offshore wind development and victories, including the lawsuit regarding the data used to determine the risk of vertical fishing lines to right whales.

“We did not have the money to do this, but the industry stepped up,” said McCarron.

Over the seven decades that the MLA has represented the Maine lobster fishery, they have continued to show up and be the voice at the table for commercial fishermen up and down the coast. Curt Brown, a commercial lobsterman and 2023 National Fisherman Highliner, stated in the 70th commemorative video, “People don’t come to Maine to eat chicken,” sparking a wave of laughter from the hundreds who attended the session.

The MLA’s board and team are proud to represent an association that not only fights for the next generation of lobstermen but has worked tirelessly to preserve Maine’s lobstering heritage, which will continue for years to come.

Next Generation of Fishermen

Friday afternoon, sessions continued, starting with marketing Maine lobster and engaging youth in the blue economy. The Eastern Maine Skippers Program presented poster sessions to give students an experience of networking within the fishing industry. There was also a session dedicated entirely to Maine’s seafood economy and all its associated careers, providing insight to help increase awareness and knowledge to K-12 audiences. On Saturday, the New England Young Fishermen’s Alliance held a session on helping the next generation succeed, speaking on their unique nine-month Deckhand to Captain training program. The program is solely tailored to sternmen aspiring to become owner-operators and covers topics such as business planning, fisheries management, marketing, and more. 

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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