Community Fisheries Action Roundtable (C-FAR)

C-FAR (Community Fisheries Action Roundtable) was inaugurated in 2008 as Coastal Fisheries’ signature fishermen leadership program.  The goal is to mobilize coastal fishermen, first by engaging in deep conversation about why fishing matters, what they want the future to be, and then bringing in skills for fishermen to collaborate with scientists and regulators to share their knowledge, understand, steward and co-manage our fisheries.

Participants discuss their values, community-based fisheries management principles, and the process of management and resource changes. Meetings are organized around specific, timely concerns identified by fishermen or their community.  The process involves communication techniques, learning how to access additional information and resources, and sparking curiosity about marine ecology at scales that build upon and expand fishermen’s traditional knowledge.

In 2012, the Maine Department of Marine Resources asked us to engage fishermen to help establish a workable plan for reopening and managing Maine’s closed near-shore scallop fishery.  We employed C-FAR techniques in more than 100 meetings with local scallopers statewide. As a result, fishermen identified geographic/ecological differences in scalloping, the state heard them and agreed, for the first time, to three separate management approaches. Where there were rotational closures proposed, fishermen drew the regulatory lines. In 2017 the co-managed fishery has exceeded expectations for abundance and profitability and been sustained through in-season information sharing, timely closures, and collaboration to improve the science.

Read more on the scallop fishery and Coastal Fisheries’ role.

Characteristic of C-FAR work, once leaders emerge, we maintain ongoing relationships, mentoring where needed, and facilitating ongoing information exchange among fishermen, scientists and managers.