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  • Writer's pictureBen Martens

Fishermen Feeding Mainers

Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association launches program to provide local seafood to Maine food banks.

October 15, 2020 —Brunswick, Maine

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many weaknesses within the nation’s food system, but the most glaring to many in Maine was the fact that there are fish in the ocean, fishermen looking to work, and hungry people who are not able to get access to food.

In response, MCFA worked with fishermen, seafood processors, the Portland Fish Exchange and with the initial support of an anonymous donor, built a program focused on providing seafood to the food insecure in our communities, while also supporting local fishermen.

“A very generous anonymous donor has jump-started this program,” said Mary Hudson the project manager. “Now we are asking for support from our community to hit our goal of donated meals throughout Maine. We’ve seen an incredible outpouring of support thus far, and we are excited to see the community come together to help us solve this important problem for Maine.”

In 2019, over 13% of people in Maine struggled with food insecurity, the highest rate in New England and well over the national average of 11%. With the onset of COVID-19 and the economic fallout that followed, the Good Shepherd Food Bank believes that this year over 250,000 Mainers, roughly 18% of the population, will struggle to get access to food.

During this time, fishermen have watched as the markets for some of our cherished seafood have collapsed. The value of fish landed in Portland this year is down by an astounding 70% from the five-year average. This has forced many fishermen to stay tied to the dock, putting the future of Maine’s working waterfront, and a way of life at risk.

“Maine has some of the best seafood in the world which means it often ends up in restaurants. When restaurants had to shut down or greatly reduce their purchasing of fresh seafood, fishermen who caught species like cod, haddock, pollock, and flounder lost their most valuable markets. Groundfish fishermen have been struggling over the past few years as it is, making the crisis of COVID-19 comparatively more impactful on this group – Ben Martens, Executive Director of MCFA.

MCFA’s goal is to donate 100,000 meals through the Good Shepherd Food Bank while also paying fishermen a livable wage.

“I take a lot of pride in the work I do and in my role as someone who helps feed our neighbors in Maine. I wasn’t able to go fishing this year because of the loss of market, so I’m excited to be able to participate in this project, stay fishing, and feed kids and those in need.” - Eben Nieuwkerk, Kennebunk fisherman.

Donations can be made through the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association website.

For more information contact:

Ben Martens, Executive Director Cell: 207-619-1755 Email:


The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association is an industry led nonprofit working to enhance the ecological and financial sustainability of Maine fisheries through advocacy, education, outreach, and collaborative research projects. MCFA provides a voice for community-based fishermen while identifying and fostering ways to restore the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine’s historic fishing communities for future generations.


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