ROCKPORT — The annual Fishermen’s Forum, a three-day event held in Rockport in early March, has been canceled for a second year due to coronavirus concerns.
The forum brings together scientists, seafood marketers, fisheries management specialists and more from across the commercial fishing industry, including marketers, processors, representatives from the Department of Marine Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other government agencies. And fishermen, of course, who gather to talk shop, share information, hear new and upcoming legislation affecting their industry, and to swap stories.
“We have concerns about ensuring health and safety in a venue that hosts thousands of attendees including families, fishermen, scientists, fishery regulators, trade show vendors and hotel staff especially given that COVID infections are currently on the rise in Maine. The decision to cancel did not come easy, but ultimately, we decided to err on the side of caution. We look forward to 2023 when we can once again fulfill our mission of providing opportunities to educate the public and the fishing industry about fisheries issues and to provide a neutral platform for constructive dialogue,” said Stave Train, chairman of the forum’s board of directors.
The event was last held in person in March 2020, just days before the pandemic caused much of the world to shut down. This past March, in its 45th season, the forum hosted a series of online workshops hoping to revive the in-person event in 2022. Instead, the board ultimately chose to cancel the event and trade show last week, which had been scheduled March 3-5, due to rising virus rates across the state.
The board plans to continue to fundraise for its scholarship program, which awards tens of thousands of dollars annually, and will look into the feasibility of hosting virtual events in the future.
“We will continue to fund raise for our annual scholarship and award as many scholarships as funds allow. Over the next couple of months, our Board of Directors will investigate the possibility of providing a number of educational sessions that will allow for remote participation,” said board vice president Jenni Steele.