Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM - 5 PM - Phone (207) 725-8797


2024 Non-profit of the Year: Maine Coast Fishermen's Association

March 19, 2024

Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association
2024 Non-Profit of the Year

Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association is one of those organizations, that when you hear their name, you think ‘oh I know what they do,’ but the more you dive into their work, the more you realize what a wide scope of projects, goals, and impact they truly have.  Supporting fishermen in Maine has many facets, and that’s what MCFA has been doing since it was created by local fishermen in 2006. 

It started with local fishermen knowing they needed an entity to represent their specific needs, and over the first several years they worked to bring the organization to a point where they could hire staff.  They needed someone who could understand policy, who could communicate with legislators and governmental bodies, and someone who had a passion for the environment and the ocean.  In 2011 they hired their first employee, Ben Martens, who is still there today as their Executive Director. 

Since that hiring, Ben and his team have had numerous successes on multiple fronts including through Congress creating the “Young Fishermen’s Development Act” to support next generation fishermen; they have helped local scallop fishermen to secure long-term access to fisheries; created the Fishermen Feeding Mainers program that has donated over 1.2 million meals since October 2020 while supporting dozens of local fishermen; they initiated a first-in-the-nation fishermen wellness program; and even won a Good Food Award for their Maine Coast Monkfish Stew.  Due in part to these successes, Ben has been recognized on MaineBiz’s 40 under 40 list.

Recently, of course, the working waterfront has had many new challenges including the December and January storms that battered the coast and destroyed large sections of the working waterfront. MCFA has been working tirelessly to help fishermen rebuild and regain the access that is so critical for their industry but also critical for Maine exports, and the beloved Maine food scene. 

That’s one piece that is so vital- MCFA represents a heritage industry that is such a deep part of our identity as Mainers. The downstream impact of Maine fishermen is directly related to our notorious food scene that brings millions of people to Maine annually and it becomes one of the first three things anyone from out of state mentions. Without the work of MCFA and the fishermen who had the foresight to create an organization to ensure the future of this lifeblood industry of Maine, our state would literally lose a bit of who we are. 

That leads to the most critical role that MCFA plays which is in sustainability. In the past 18 months, MCFA has supported market creation and stabilization of markets for groundfish (cod, haddock, flounder, etc.) to add customers for seafood beyond lobster and scallops that Maine is already so known for.  Stabilization includes protecting access to the working waterfront which may entail boat launches, marinas, local land use permitting, and even state and national policies. 

Science and data are also a crucial piece of the stability model that MCFA works on tirelessly. As Ben said in our award interview “there is opportunity in our oceans. We have fish in our oceans, with good management and science, we can have more, and that is an amazing opportunity for a world that is demanding good, healthy protein…. We have an amazing opportunity to feed our communities and we should embrace that opportunity.”

And that just scratches the surface of what MCFA does.  There are a half-dozen other initiatives and programs they work on to support local fishermen.  So how can you help?  Ben gave us that answer to: “One of the best ways that an average Mainer can support Maine fishermen is by eating local seafood, caring about who is harvesting that seafood, and supporting the work of the people and organizations who ensure fishermen have a voice in science, management, and community planning.”

Congratulations to Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Ben Martens, and his team on being named the 2024 Non-Profit of the Year. 

Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association won the Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber’s 2024 Non-Profit of the Year award at the 2024 Annual Awards Dinner held on March 8, 2024 at St. John’s Community Center in Brunswick. There is an accompanying video which premiered that evening and can be found on the Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber’s YouTube channel.


RSS Feed RSS Feed

Post Archive

Linkedin Facebook   8 Venture Ave. Brunswick, ME 04011
Linkedin Facebook
Website by Aptuitiv | Powered by BranchCMS