The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association Dec. 1 as one of seven recipients to receive a grant through the Fisheries Innovation Fund. This funding, $99,882 in total, will continue to drive the organization’s mission of working to identify and foster ways to restore the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine’s fishing communities for future generations.

The Fishermen’s Association received funding to work on a project to develop the Next Generation of Permit Banking and Fishery Trusts. Permit banks are designed to anchor fishing access within communities and make fishing opportunities accessible for local fishermen. Access to a permit bank allows many to keep fishing, as adequate species’ quota is needed per trip, and provide an opportunity for new entrants into Maine’s historic groundfish industry. There are currently three permit banks in Maine.

The grant will allow the Fishermen’s Association develop new approaches to fishery trusts that expand upon current models and look to the future for community access and needs, according to MCFA officals. MCFA has worked over the past seven years with the Nature Conservancy to start a permit bank in Maine. This program will allow the association to work with partners from around the country to think about what it can do better to support local communities and the next generation of fishermen in Maine, New England and around the country.

The Fisheries Innovation Fund is an ongoing partnership between NFWF, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Walton Family Foundation. All seven grants announced will fund conservation work aimed at reducing bycatch of depleted fisheries stocks and protect their habitats while still allowing fishermen to access their targeted species. The impact of the 2017 Fisheries Innovation Fund projects will generate a total conservation impact of more than $1.6 million for 11 states in New England, the Atlantic, the Pacific Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.