Clifford D. West
This project developed a participatory, place-based approach for assessing the vulnerability and resilience of Maine fishing communities, documenting threats and resources available to respond to those threats. To understand the forces driving vulnerability, Johnson and graduate students Cameron Thompson and Anna Henry worked with community stakeholders to identify opportunities and strategies for improving resilience of fishing communities. They produced a summary report, entitled, “In Their Own Words: Fishermen’s Perspectives of Community Resilience.”
Once upon a time, Maine fishermen and women harvested a diversity of species, from groundfish and herring to lobsters, clams, shrimp, and scallops, depending on market conditions and resource abundance. Today, Maine’s fishing culture is concentrated in 50 coastal communities and is overwhelmingly dependent on lobster, while regulations have restricted other fisheries. Since 1990, the number of vessels landing groundfish in Maine dropped from 350 to 70. At least 72 groundfish permits have been lost, and dramatic changes in management are imminent, leading Johnson to wonder, “How vulnerable are Maine’s fishing communities? What can be done to improve their resiliency to future change?”
These are the questions that federal fisheries managers must ask when assessing the impact of new rules, yet too often they don’t have the right data to answer the questions. This project developed a participatory, place-based approach for assessing the vulnerability and resilience of Maine fishing communities, documenting threats and resources available to respond to those threats. To understand the forces driving vulnerability, Johnson and graduate students Cameron Thompson and Anna Henry worked with community stakeholders to identify opportunities and strategies for improving resilience of fishing communities.
Clifford D. West, born on December 23, 1942, in Steuben, is a seasoned commercial fisherman who began his career at the tender age of ten in 1954. He comes from a lineage of fishermen, with both his father and grandfather involved in the industry. Clifford's family, including his wife, who hails from a fishing family in Milbridge, has been instrumental in his fishing business. He has three children, none of whom are involved in fishing.
Scope and Content Note:
This interview with Clifford D. West provides a comprehensive insight into his life and career as a commercial fisherman in Steuben. The interview begins with a brief personal history. The interviewer then delves into Clifford's family background, particularly their involvement in fishing. The conversation shifts to the specifics of Clifford's fishing business, including his sources of ice, the markets where he sold his catch, and the logistics of transporting his fish to these markets. Clifford discusses his relationships with various buyers and brokers, and his preference for selling his fish in Portland over Boston. The interview also touches on Clifford's children and grandchildren, none of whom are involved in fishing. Clifford expresses his belief that fishing is a difficult way to make a living, citing the hard work and numerous headaches associated with the industry. Finally, the interview explores Clifford's entry into the groundfishing industry in 1978, the ports he fished out of, and his experiences working on his own boat. The interview provides a rich account of Clifford's life and career, offering valuable insights into the realities of commercial fishing in Steuben.
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