Reflections from the Maine Fishermen’s Forum

The Maine Fishermen’s Forum is a unique event that brings together leaders and innovators working in our state’s blue economy. From fishermen and aquaculturists to scientists, management agencies, gear suppliers, and others, the forum is an opportunity for stakeholders in this sector to convene, collaborate, and share ideas. We were excited to attend this past week and connect with friends and partners from across the coast. Read on for reflections and takeaways on the 2023 forum from Island Institute staff.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Today, we want to recognize the extensive contributions that women across the state make to Maine’s working waterfront and marine economy. Molly Miller and Lia Morris are part of the Island Institute’s Blue Economy team and work to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for the economic sectors directly and indirectly connected to the ocean—and the people and communities who depend on this resource. Read on to learn more about what inspired their interest in this field and how they are working to create a more resilient coast.

Building Workforce & Education Pathways for a Changing Coast

The Island Institute’s Workforce Pathway’s Team is working to understand and address these long-term workforce needs and connect community members with promising education and career opportunities. The two primary ways we do this is through our education pathway and workforce partnerships. We focus on clean energy, seafood, and remote work because these three sectors show great promise for island and coastal communities, and they align well with Island Institute’s broader work and commitments.

To save the last 20 miles of Maine’s working waterfront, we need to update the law

The need for an additional, responsive tool for securing working waterfronts has led Island Institute to partner with Representative Morgan Rielly of Westbrook on legislation that will enable land trusts to have the option of holding working waterfront covenants. Land trusts provide a vehicle for private sector partners to work together to mobilize additional funding sources and act more nimbly. This is particularly important in urgent, emergency sale situations where multiple parties must move quickly to put together the funding and structure and close the deal.

Energy resilience planning in coastal communities

How do you cope with electricity outages and plan for energy resilience when you’re a small, isolated community—either at the end of a 40-mile power line or on an island several miles out to sea? Eastport and Islesboro, both off Maine’s coast, were selected to tackle these issues through a U.S. Department of Energy program, the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP).

Charging Ahead

We have spent the last year making progress toward our long-term goal of catalyzing the electrification of commercial boats on Maine’s working coast. This transition from gas- and diesel-powered engines to electric motors comes with questions and challenges—but also tremendous benefits for businesses and coastal communities.

Unique Yet Familiar

For the second time in my career, I’m venturing into new work as a transplant “from away.” The first time was 27 years ago when I moved from a small, rural village in New Hampshire to a mid-sized city in southern Appalachia. My younger self, the one who had only ever briefly ventured out of New England, was easily identifiable as a newcomer. What started as a brief migration to spread my wings and soak up some warm weather turned into decades of service opportunities spanning the fields of public health, public education, community development, public policy, and economic development. I never imagined I would be welcomed, and then immersed, so much as to eventually become a city council member and a Deputy Mayor.

Two Years of Maine’s Climate Action Plan

This month marked the second anniversary of Maine Won’t Wait, the Maine Climate Council’s 4-year climate action plan. Partners from across the state are working hard to put the plan into action. Together we are making progress on reducing emissions, advancing clean energy, and protecting Maine’s infrastructure and environment from the impacts of climate change.… Read more »

Too Broad, Too Rapid, Too Uncertain

If you’ve turned on the radio or watched the news lately, you may have heard about the proposed regulatory changes to the lobster fishery here in Maine. A recent federal court ruling has directed the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)—one entity responsible for regulating the lobster fishery—to do a better job of protecting right whales… Read more »

Sharing Climate Forward Innovations

With hurricane season hitting our southern neighbors earlier than usual, the impacts of climate change were top-of-mind entering the Island Institute’s Climate Symposium on Friday, September 16th. Over 140 mostly Mainers gathered in Portland to share solutions, ideas, and methods for businesses and communities to adopt or trial in this changing climate. In a non-conventional… Read more »