Imagine the sun setting on a cool summer night with fresh lobsters and steamers and all the fixings, local beer and Maine-grown folk tunes by The Ghost of Paul Revere – and no crowds, because, well, there’s only so much room for vehicles at Cook’s Lobster & Ale House on Bailey Island.

If that wasn’t perfect enough, this July 15 event dubbed Hook, Line & Dinner raised $11,000 to support the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA).

“MCFA is a nonprofit run by commercial fishermen,” said Executive Director Ben Martens, explaining that the organization tries to balance the concerns of the industry and those of the environment.

Two hundred MCFA supporters made the winding drive from as far away as Port Clyde to the north and Kennebunkport to the south and, in a few instances, arrived by boat.

Board President Gerry Cushman of Port Clyde is a fifth-generation lobsterman who remembers previous generations being more diversified and having more licenses for commercial fishing.

“I believe we got involved right at the nick of time,” said Cushman, who was one of the founders of the MCFA 12 years ago. “Diversification is important in fisheries, and it’s not all about lobstering. Lobsters may not last forever. I hope they do, because right now, they’re a lifeline in these communities.”

Fourth-generation commercial fisherman Joe Nickerson of Kennebunkport said he, too, got involved with the MCFA “to help the small boats and independent fishermen keep going.”

Another board member, Colleen Craig, was intrigued by the environmental stewardship. “We’re a progressive organization interested in sustainability and ways to responsibly approach fishing in Maine,” she said.

“We want to be sure people know we’re working with fishermen other than lobstermen,” said Monique Coombs, MCFA’s director of marine programs. The nonprofit supports those who make their living through scallops, shrimp, clams and groundfish (pollock, cod, hake, flounder and halibut).

With that distinction made by the wife of lobsterman Herman Coombs, it’s obvious that the fishing and lobstering communities couldn’t be more intertwined.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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