With Fishermen’s Day upon us in Stonington, we reflect on the fishermen that work alongside our team at Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries. We were founded in 2003 on the principle that the only way the resources of the oceans will be protected and sustained is through joint stakeholder stewardship; the collective action of fishermen and their communities, supported by science and working in combination with regulatory authorities at all levels.
Our efforts to research, and ultimately restore, the groundfish stock in Eastern Maine relies heavily on local fishermen. Our Sentinel Survey, which uses both longline and jig hook gear, has been collecting groundfish samples since 2010 using a unique approach, meant to fill the gaps of a currently limited data set. Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries targets historic population centers that are identified by fishermen, in areas traditional trawling methods cannot adequately cover.
The two fishermen working on the 2017 season Sentinel Survey are Steve Brown of Cherryfield and Mathew Thomson of Monhegan. The fishermen are spotlighted below!
Steve joined Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries (MCCF) as a Sentinel Survey fisherman in 2013. He ships out of Steuben Harbor and has been fishing the Gulf of Maine for over 30 years, with experience catching scallops, urchin, tuna, halibut, and groundfish. Not only a supporter of MCCF’s efforts, Steve has also worked on University of Maine and state-led research projects, and his daughter, Betsey, participates in MCCF’s youth program, Eastern Maine Skippers.
“I joined the Sentinel Survey basically because I wanted to see the groundfish coming back,” said Steve. “If we don’t do it right now, do it right this time with the groundfish, we are going to repeat history and lose the stock.” Steve provides his boat, the F/V Tricia Clark, for groundfish sampling throughout the summer. Not only is he offering that service, he is crucial to the design, interpretation, and analysis models for the survey – contributing his expert knowledge to scientists and their research. A true contributor to Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, we are lucky to have the support of Steve.
Mathew “Mattie” Thomson
While Mattie has provided his boat to Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries (MCCF) in the past, this summer is his first season on the water as a Sentinel Survey fisherman. A resident of Monhegan Island, Mattie ships out of Monhegan, Port Clyde, and Stonington’s harbors aboard the F/V Fair Wind. Primarily a lobster fisherman (he also owns a food truck!), Mattie is interested in returning to groundfishing. He joined the Sentinel Survey to “get a sense of what’s around,” with hopes of gaining a common pool permit next year. With decades of fishing experience and knowledge, he has seen groundfish feed coming back, a huge development according to Mattie. “Local monitoring is helpful,” he says, “federal monitoring is not as helpful.” At Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, we emphasize localized data and management approaches. Having fishermen, like Mattie, supporting these strategies is important not only for the Sentinel Survey but for all of the work being done at MCCF.
Fishermen’s engagement, knowledge, and leadership are central to everything we do. At Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, we are proud to work for all fishermen as we seek to make Eastern Maine a place where we can sustain fishing, forever.
About Fishermen’s Day: You can honor Steve and Mattie, Fishermen’s Hall of Fame inductees Richard “Dick” Bridges, John Wallace Sr., and Richard “Dick” Kent. Jr., and countless other Maine fishermen by coming out this Sunday to Fishermen’s Day. Festivities, led by the Island Fishermen’s Wives Association, kick off at 10 a.m. on the Commercial Fish Pier in Stonington, ME. We will see you there!