Former commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources Robin Alden recently accepted a Hero of the Seas award at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MCCF

Alden honored as ‘Hero of the Seas’



WASHINGTON, D.C. — Robin Alden, Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries’ executive director, recently received the Hero of the Seas award at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Alden was recognized with the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for her career working at the grassroots, engaging fishermen’s knowledge and participation to build sustainable, healthy coastal fisheries and fishing communities.

“It is just unbelievable to have international recognition for Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries’ basic approach: that the knowledge fishermen have about the ecology they work in every day is important to a healthy fisheries and our communities,” Alden said.

“This is a great time for this award,” she said. “Fisheries are at a turning point because climate change is forcing fishery regulators to face the fact that the ocean changes all the time. Constant change makes real-time, on-the-ground observation so much more important than the old approach of primarily depending upon abundance predictions. We – fishermen, scientists and regulators – have to learn how to learn and act together.”

She continued: “To sustain fishing communities forever, our mission requires an approach where fishermen are on the front line not just of catching product but also of contributing to wise ways to manage fisheries.”

The international Peter Benchley Ocean Awards are the preeminent ocean awards and acknowledge outstanding achievement across many sectors of society leading to the protection of the ocean, coasts and the communities that depend on them. Co-founded by Wendy Benchley and David Helvarg and named in honor of Peter Benchley, author of “Jaws,” the awards celebrate the life and legacy of a man who spent more than 40 years educating the public and expanding awareness of the importance of protecting sharks and ocean ecosystems.

One of 10 categories of the award, the Hero of the Seas Award is given to “a marine grassroots activist who has made a major and long-term commitment to improving the quality of our seas and the communities that depend on them.”

For 20 years, Alden was publisher and editor of Commercial Fisheries News, a regional fishing trade newspaper that she founded in 1973. She was co-founder of the Maine Fishermen’s Forum. She was commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources from 1995 to 1997 before co-founding the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries in 2003.

She also has been a founding partner of Downeast Fisheries Partnership.

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