Downeast Fisheries Partnership

Sustainable Fisheries and Resilient Communities

On a mission to restore and sustain Downeast fisheries to help our natural and human communities thrive.


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About Our Partnership

The Downeast Fisheries Partnership came together in 2014 to improve the health of our communities by rejuvenating the region’s once-thriving fisheries economy. Our unique composition is our strength.  We are nonprofit partners with strong expertise and extensive experience working with, and to support and restore fish, fishermen, fisheries, food systems, and community economics.

The Power of Collective Action

Founded in 2014, our collective action partnership is working with supportive funders, like-minded nonprofits, fishermen, local municipalities, and state and national fisheries managers to restore a resilient foundation for a thriving fisheries economy across Maine’s Washington and Hancock counties.

Our Partners

Built on the power of collective action, the Downeast Fisheries Partnership possesses strong regional capabilities in land conservation, municipal leadership, outreach and education, economic and community development, stakeholder engagement, and fisheries restoration and management.

Downeast Salmon Federation
College of the Atlantic logo
Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries
Sunrise County Economic Council
Downeast Institute
Manomet Conservation Sciences Logo
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Sea Grant Maine


There will be a day in Downeast Maine when the Gulf of Maine is silver with fish; when alewife, shad, and salmon race up the rivers flashing in the sun; when the nets of fishermen once again teem with cod and haddock; when coastal villages bustle with new energy and new possibilities; and when we, the communities of Downeast Maine, are the stewards of our future. The Downeast Fisheries Partnership is committed to this future. 


We have decided to deliberately focus and strategically organize our partnership’s efforts within three strategically chosen watersheds in Downeast Maine (St. Croix/Skutik River to Cobscook & Passamaquoddy Bay, Machias Valley to Machias Bay, Union River to Acadia). By focusing our work in this way, we believe that our partnership’s work can more quickly rebuild these key watersheds as fully functional systems that support thriving fishery populations and fishing dependent communities once again.  

Habitat Connectivity

Alewives have a traditional cultural and economic importance to the communities of Downeast Maine. However, beginning in the late 1600s mill dams were built across Maine’s rivers and streams, blocking the alewives’ annual upstream spawning run. In recent years, the removal of migration obstacles from Maine’s rivers has shown that these resilient, short-lived, fast-growing fish can achieve dramatic recoveries in only a few years. Bringing back alewife and other sea-run fishes will revitalize culturally important, community-scale fisheries, and will also support the restoration of our coastal groundfish fisheries and the endangered Atlantic salmon.


Downeast’s coastal communities rank among the most fisheries dependent communities in the nation. But after more than a century of dam building, roadway construction, climate change and chronic over harvesting, our coastal and sea-run fisheries are depleted – leaving many coastal communities precariously dependent upon a lobster population that is showing signs of stress thought to be related to environmental changes.

Downeast Maine By the Numbers

Five out of eight of the nation's rivers where naturally spawning Atlantic salmon return are in Downeast Maine.

37 million adult alewives could return from the Gulf of Maine to spawn in the St. Croix River watershed if their upstream access were fully restored

Downeast Maine is the most fisheries dependent region in New England and ranks as one of the most fishing intensive economies in the nation.

Added together, Downeast Maine’s seven largest rivers, flow for 412 miles to the Gulf of Maine.

Building Relationships

We have a strong history of working across the region to build trust and cultivate relationships of mutual respect among our communities, businesses, commercial harvesters, and management agencies to strengthen and protect our region’s natural resource economy and cultural heritage.

Contact us to learn more.


Contact Us

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Contact DFP

Brittany Foster
DFP Coordinator

Larry Clifford
DFP Project Development Specialist