Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16FINDING A COMMON GOAL How does it work? Take the story of the alewife, a once incredibly abundant, ten-inch long fish that lives in the ocean and migrates upstream in the spring to spawn in lakes and ponds. This unas- suming river herring has appeal to a wide array of interests. People fight- ing to protect the endangered Atlantic salmon are working to restore alewives because they divert avian predators away from juvenile salmon. Others want the alewife restored because this species can reset the ecological balance in algae- choked ponds and lakes—and provide a critical food source for groundfish. For communities, alewives support grow- ing, commercial fisheries that supply fishermen with lobster bait. For teachers, alewife migrations are local, hands-on learning opportunities. And the avail- ability of smoked alewives, a longtime local delicacy, is reviving interest in natu- rally flowing rivers and streams. As the partners shared their goals and strategies, they recognized that ale- wife restoration was a common theme— and that by working together, they could be more effective in raising aware- ness of the issue, prioritizing restoration projects, and engaging communities and funders in the work of bringing back this keystone species. In addition to being open to new partners—and their ideas, energy and connections—effective collaborations closely track developments related to their efforts. Inflexible strategic plans aren’t effective in solving complex prob- lems; the ability to adapt to changing conditions is essential to capitalizing on new opportunities for making progress. The wash out of a roadway creates a chance to install a fish ladder. A change in land ownership opens the door to protecting riparian habitat. A push for STEM education leads to the creation of teaching kits focused on fisheries science. The rebuilding of a collapsed stock begins a discussion of sustainable fishing practices. Climate impacts put a focus on anticipating a shifting mix of fisheries. And each of these opportuni- ties opens doors to others. At monthly meetings, groups report on their work related to the partner- ship’s strategies; the conversation is always informative but it is also often generative. Opportunities for working together are identified and solutions to problems are explored. The free- flowing, open conversation can lead to new ideas; those that are compelling are often transformed into new initiatives. For example, this process generated a region-wide focus on fisheries-based educational programming. The Eastern Maine Skippers Program is a program that allows high school students to pursue their aca- demic requirements through the lens of fisheries—and keeps kids in school who might otherwise drop out to fish fulltime. A discussion of the program’s success in preparing the next genera- tion of fishermen led to a new idea: creating opportunities for kids to learn about rivers, estuaries, fish, and fisheries throughout their educational journey. Downeast Fisheries Partnership spon- sored a workshop that brought together teachers and program administrators from across the region. As a result, the partnership mapped the patchwork of relevant school-based and extracurricu- lar educational programming—with the goal of filling the gaps and making con- nections for children as they advance from grade to grade. A focus on fisheries education was not anticipated by the partners, but it has become a powerful force for developing a sense of owner- ship and stewardship of aquatic ecosys- tems and resources in the communities of eastern Maine. Participating in the partnership, groups see how their work ties into a bigger vision, how working together helps them achieve their goals. Allowing ideas to bubble up from discussions among the partners is another tool for addressing the problem of fisheries decline; those most engaged in local fisheries are the source of information and ideas that drive our joint action. MAKING PROGRESS TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY In addition to being a partner, Manomet provides the so-called backbone support for the Downeast Fisheries Partnership, including coordination, fundrais- ing, grants management, and commu- nications. Through the partnership, Manomet has learned that collaboration is an integral component to transform- ing how we manage the critical systems that support life. By working with the managers of these key economic and natural systems, the results are showing that our natural resources can be used sustainably now and forever. By creating a place for varied groups to discuss their common interests, the Downeast Fisheries Partnership has cre- ated a diverse and powerful constituency for ecosystem renewal and community redevelopment in eastern Maine. Most important, it is demonstrating that col- laboration is an invaluable tool in solving wicked problems. Developing a shared understanding of environmental issues builds trust and a willingness to work together Manomet Partnerships for Sustainability • Fall / Winter 2016-17 | 9