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  • Writer's pictureBen Martens

Fishing on Changing Waters: Maine fishermen share their perspectives on climate change

On May 12th, over seventy-five people packed the screening room at Frontier in Brunswick hear from four Maine fishermen about their experiences over a lifetime spent fishing on a rapidly changing Gulf of Maine. At the Maine Fishermen’s Forum last May, fishermen from around the country came together to talk to Maine fishermen about climate change. Out of that event was a charge to Maine’s fishermen to share their stories and help promote real discussions focused on a changing Gulf of Maine ecosystem.

To start the night off, MCFA showed the first Climate of Change video created by the Island Institute (you can watch the video here).

In keeping with the theme of exploring fishermen’s perspectives on climate change, MCFA also showed a short highlight video from our session at the 2016 Maine Fishermen’s Forum, ‘Questioning Our Changing Oceans’. At the Forum, nearly 350 people listened as fishermen from all over the United States, and as far away as Australia, shared the challenges that climate change has created for their livelihoods, as well as strategies they have found to be successful in responding to it—or not. The session closed with a call to action for fishermen, voiced by Deadliest Catch’s Keith Colburn and Big Fish Texas’ Buddy Guindon as well as NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional Administrator, John Bullard: don’t be afraid to get involved and speak up about climate change, whether that means working with local organizations or making fishermen’s voices heard in Washington, D.C. (video can be seen below)

After the films was a presentation by Bowdoin College visiting assistant professor in Earth and Oceanographic Science, Meredith White, on ocean acidification, a direct “side-effect” of climate change. Using a slideshow, Dr. White explained the connection between rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and increasing ocean acidity, which harms growing shellfish and, at higher levels, crustaceans (as has been recently seen on the West Coast, where ocean acidification has become a serious threat to the Dungeness crab population).

Fishermen Bryan Bichrest, Steve Train, and brothers Gerry and Randy Cushman took the stage after the Fishermen’s Forum video screening. Each fisherman—or lobsterman, in the cases of Steve Train and Gerry Cushman—spoke briefly about his background, often revealing histories of fishermen in their families stretching back generations. After introducing themselves, the fishermen engaged in a round of Q&A with the audience moderated by MCFA’s Executive Director, Ben Martens.

We want to thank everyone who was able to attend the event and especially the fishermen who shared their stories with those in the audience.

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