The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA) held their annual meeting and celebration at the newly renovated Maine Beer Company in Freeport. MCFA is an industry-based nonprofit that identifies and fosters ways to restore the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine’s fishing communities for future generations. At the meeting, fishing members elected the 2019 board of directors and selected officers for the organization. Joe Nickerson, a groundfish, scallop, elver, and lobster fisherman out of Arundel, ME was elected chairman of the board and Alex Todd, an 11th generation fisherman from Chebeague Island was elected vice-chair. Joe Nickerson succeeds Gerry Cushman of Port Clyde Maine who served as board chairman for the previous 8 years. Lee Walker of Harpswell was elected treasurer and Andrew Kraus of Portland was elected secretary.
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to serve as chairman and help lead this organization,” said Joe Nickerson after being elected chairman of the board of directors. “The work of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association in giving a voice to Maine’s community-based fishermen is more important than ever as we deal with new threats, changing oceans, and embrace new opportunities in Maine’s fishing communities.”
The highlight of the night was the presentation of the first annual Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association Community Leadership Award. The recipient of the 2019 award was Becky Rand, who was recognized for her support of Maine’s commercial fishermen and Portland’s working waterfront. Becky is the owner of Becky’s Diner in Portland Maine, a frequent watering hole for fishermen and a spot that many consider a home away from home. A spot for a cup of coffee well before dawn or local seafood dinner late after a day on the water, Becky not only makes the fishermen part of the family, but has helped support them by hosting meetings, organizing fundraisers, and being a vocal advocate for their businesses and way of life.
“Becky Rand is a shining example of an individual who, in all aspects of her life, gives back to Maine’s fishing community and Portland’s working waterfront. We are thrilled to award her the MCFA Community Leadership Award for 2019,” said Ben Martens, MCFA Executive Director.
As part of the evening, staff gave overviews of the projects and work that MCFA accomplished over the last year which includes important progress in protecting the working waterfront, supporting fishermen in their efforts in stopping the development of a hotel on the waterfront in Portland, and promoting stewardship-forward policies in the groundfish, scallop, and forage fisheries in New England. The board of directors also shared their new strategic plan that was approved in December and outlined priorities to advocate for sustainable fisheries, preserving fishing access, and promoting innovative fishing businesses in Maine.
“The strategic plan board and staff developed ties together not only different part of the work that MCFA has historically done, but outlines our plan for sustaining vibrant fishing communities in Maine. We need abundant fish stocks in our oceans, access to permits and the working waterfront for our fishermen, and fishing businesses that are innovating and evolving.” said Ben Martens, MCFA executive director.