The communities of coastal Maine depend on fishing, but the industry has been in trouble since stocks of groundfish species like cod, haddock and flounder collapsed over 20 years ago.  


Prey species like herring and alewives are also in serious decline, Atlantic salmon are listed as endangered and shad and smelt are listed as species of concern. The fishery is far less diverse than it once was and the coastal economy is primarily dependent on the lobster fishery.


Manomet has partnered with two Maine nonprofits, the Downeast Salmon Federation and the Penobscot East Resource Center, to form the Downeast Fisheries Partnership, a regional effort to restore productive and diverse fisheries in Downeast Maine.


On July 30th, Manomet held an event in Bar Harbor, Maine, to introduce the Downeast Fisheries Partnership and discuss its plans for restoring healthy fisheries and fishing communities in eastern Maine. 


At the event, Manomet President John Hagan discussed why the formation of this partnership is so timely.


“Science from NOAA and other researchers has shown eastern Maine as a separate ecosystem from the larger Gulf of Maine that needs to be managed separately,” Hagan said. “We now have a better understanding how sea-run fish support the health of both freshwater and marine ecosystems, dams throughout eastern Maine are coming down, federal agencies are promoting ‘community-based ecosystem management’ as a potential new model for fisheries management and people are becoming increasingly interested in local seafood.”


About 30 people attended the event, where Hagan, Downeast Salmon Federation Executive Director Dwayne Shaw, Penobscot East Resource Center Executive Director Robin Alden and board member with the Penobscot East Resource Center and Maine Sea Coast Mission Dennis Damon outlined the partnership’s plans.  


“We’re reaching out to others who, like Downeast Salmon Federation and Penobscot East Resource Center, can contribute to restoring fisheries in eastern Maine,” said Anne Hayden, the partnership’s coordinator. “Manomet’s role is to coordinate the efforts of all involved and keep the focus on solving this big, complex problem. Our goal is for the communities of eastern Maine to sustain themselves through fishing.”


– Haley Jordan