Penobscot East Resource Center's Alden recognized with national award for her work
Thursday, October 6th 2016
Robin Alden, founding executive director of the Penobscot East Resource Center, Maine’s center for coastal fisheries based in Stonington, Maine, is one of a dozen individuals nation-wide selected as “White House Champions of Change for Sustainable Seafood.” She will be honored at an event Friday, Oct. 7 , 2016 at the White House.
“I have spent my entire adult life pursuing this vision and the award is validation for all the fishermen, scientists, regulators, and supporters who have done the hard work of collaborating to make local fisheries sustainable,” Alden said.
She co-founded PERC in 2003 and has led a path-breaking effort to bring the knowledge and expertise of fishermen, scientists, and policy makers together in collaborative shared management of Maine’s coastal fishery from the Penobscot Estuary east to the Canadian Maritimes. Under Alden’s direction, PERC’s innovative approach is recognized internationally as a model for sustainable fisheries.
“Ironically, climate change is helping us all, including state and federal regulators, realize that we need a new and more collaborative approach to managing fisheries, and that that has to involve fishermen – their knowledge and their participation in making tough, informed decisions. This is very long term work of trust-building and social change, collaborative science, and policy innovation.” Alden said. “My goal is to leave Penobscot East Resource Center strong and able to carry the vision forward. We have both an urgent need and an opportunity for this to work as we all face climate change together.”
For more than a dozen years Alden has spearheaded a host of pioneering and collaborative initiatives with the goal of securing fishing forever in Downeast Maine. Notable examples include: Community Fisheries Action Roundtable (C-FAR), first convened by PERC in 2008, facilitates shared management by fishermen, scientists, and policy makers. In 2012 C-FAR facilitation helped build the plan that led to the revitalization and reopening of Maine’s closed scallop fishery. The fishery, which had seen a decline to less than 300,000 lbs. caught in 2005, has fully rebounded with more than 5,000,000 lbs. caught in 2014.
Eastern Maine Skippers Program (EMSP) created in 2012 by PERC in collaboration with Maine’s Rural Aspirations Project. EMSP educates and mentors more than 100 high school students from Vinalhaven, North Haven, Deer Isle-Stonington, Ellsworth, Mount Desert Island, Narraguagus, and Jonesport-Beals High Schools. The program was a recipient of a Maine Department of Marine Resources Lobster Research & Education Award in 2016.
Sentinel Survey Fishery, a partially federally funded fishermen/scientist partnership created in 2010 and managed by PERC in collaboration with the University of Maine to collect data needed to develop management policy aimed at rebuilding a viable fishery for cod, haddock and other groundfish in Downeast Maine.
Before starting PERC, Alden served as Commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, responsible for Maine‘s marine and anadromous fishery management and enforcement and for aquaculture in the state. She was also the publisher and editor of both Commercial Fisheries News and Fish Farming News and a public member of the New England Fishery Management Council. She was co-founder of Maine Fishermen’s Forum.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The United States fishing industry is critical to the economic health and well-being of communities across the country, supporting 1.7 million jobs and contributing nearly $200 billion to the economy in 2014.