Groups call on Maine fishermen to help improve industry education
Three Maine organizations are seeking input from Maine fishermen, educators and industry experts for an initiative to fill the education and training gap to better prepare the next generation of Maine fishermen .
Over the next three to four months, the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, the Maine Sea Grant and the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries will be collecting feedback from fishermen and industry experts on the skills that have given them an advantage, which it is a matter of transporting crates or decoding the harvest. laws.
The goal is to identify where existing education and training programs “could be improved to better meet the needs of the next generation,” said Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.
Martens said the education initiative was launched as the three organizations involved waited for funding for a bill passed by Congress last year called the Young Fishermen’s Development Act. The bill seeks to “preserve the fishing heritage of the United States through a national program dedicated to training and assisting the next generation of commercial fishermen.”
Following the passage of this legislation, Maine Sea Grant received support from the National Sea Grant office to launch the educational research initiative, dubbed âCareers of the Seaâ.
At the end of the information-gathering period, the three organizations will produce a report with the findings that will be sent to National Sea Grant and be available to the public, Martens said.
In preliminary conversations with fishermen, Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries fishery education specialist Tom Duym said responses about what fishermen want to learn vary with age. He said more established fishermen are more interested in learning money management skills and getting involved in organizations that represent the fishing industry.
Young fishermen, however, have shown a thirst to learn what new technologies are available to fishermen as well as how they can survive the challenges ahead that could put their livelihoods at risk. Duym said young fishermen and fishermen are particularly concerned about how efforts to protect endangered right whales, or the future construction of offshore wind turbines, could weaken the lobster industry.
“It is a real and current threat to them,” said Duym. âWhat shook me when I spoke to young fishermen is that they are worried about what they are going to do in 10 years. It also opens the door to discussions that they may not want to hear, but they know they will need them to survive this. Having worked in the fishing industry as an educator for over 40 years, I’ve seen this come and go before, but this time there’s a level of urgency that wasn’t there before.
Martens said that this deep dive into the training that a fisherman needs to be successful in Maine is especially needed now as the career only gets more complex.
âPreviously, if you were good at catching fish, you could be a good fisherman,â Martens said. âThere are a lot of complex parts that go into running a fishing business now. We want to build a fishing community for this next generation of fishermen who will need to be strong businessmen, leaders and understand science and politics. We want to give them all the tools they need to be successful in the future.
Martens said Maine is also unique in that the commercial fishing industry, for which the state is known, is made up largely of small, owner-operated fishing vessels. Not only that, but there is a next generation of fishermen looking to take over from those aging out of the industry.
âThere are a lot of places in the United States that don’t have the next generation of anglers coming,â Martens said. âThis is a real opportunity for Maine, and we are really excited to help lead some of this work to ensure that success is in front of us. “
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