Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 593–607 | Cite as

Promoting resilience in a regional seafood system: New England and the Fish Locally Collaborative

  • Brett TolleyEmail author
  • Regina Gregory
  • Gerald G. Marten


This article explores problems and solutions in the New England groundfish fishery, where social, economic, environmental, and food system sustainability are major challenges. With industrialization of fishing during the past century, managers have turned a blind eye to issues of scale (e.g., industrial scale vs. community scale), which has led to chronic overfishing. There have been recurring stock collapses of favored species (e.g., cod) during the past 50 years despite federal government management of the fishery during most of that period. Small- and medium-scale fishermen—with better local knowledge, motivation for local sustainability, and smaller ecological footprints—have increasingly been displaced by large-scale operations, especially during recent years with policies that are privatizing fisheries access and consolidating the fleet. Coastal fishing communities and the fishery have suffered. The Fish Locally Collaborative (FLC)—an international decentralized network of fishermen and their allies—is promoting a paradigm shift. Its efforts to keep the smaller-scale boats afloat and support local communities include economic and political strategies. Defining value with quadruple bottom line accounting (i.e., assessing social, economic, environmental, and food system impacts), the FLC promotes a shift from high-volume/low-value production to low volume/high value. The FLC has reestablished local food supply chains with community-supported fisheries, public seafood markets, and “boat-to-hospital” and “boat-to-school” programs based on procurement contracts that specify local and sustainable catch. FLC participants promote the consumption of lesser-known fish species to motivate more balanced and ecologically sustainable fishing. Politically, FLC participants continue to build the strength of the network and engage in policy discussions at local, national, and international levels.


New England Fisheries Cod Sutainability Resilience Regional fisheries council Community-supported fisheries Catch shares Fish Locally Collaborative 



We gratefully acknowledge Colles Stowell, Boyce Thorne Miller, Shira Tiffany, and Niaz Dorry for their thoughtful comments and help in improving the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brett Tolley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Regina Gregory
    • 2
  • Gerald G. Marten
    • 2
  1. 1.Northwest Atlantic Marine AllianceGloucesterUSA
  2. 2.EcoTipping Points ProjectKailuaUSA

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