Fishing Communities

Fishing communities are an important part of California’s maritime heritage and economy and its coastal and ocean ecosystems. Viable commercial fisheries require not only healthy marine resources and habitat, but also people and businesses to support fishing activities. Those activities, in turn, support local economies and provide seafood to consumers.

According to the Federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, a fishing community is defined as

… substantially dependent on or substantially engaged in the harvest or processing of fishery resources to meet social and economic needs, and includes fishing vessel owners, operators, and crew and United States fish processors that are based in such community. 

However, a fishing community depends on these players and more to thrive and to get the catch to consumers. For example, harbors provide hoists, docks, boat slips and other amenities that are critical for offloading the catch, and provide “safe harbor,” protecting boats and people from potentially severe weather and ocean conditions. Likewise, marine supply, electronics, boat maintenance, and other businesses are essential for keeping fishing boats operating safely and effectively. Together, fishing operations, these support businesses, and the people who run them, are dependent on one another for their livelihood and well-being. As communities, they are connected to each other socially and economically, both locally and across regions.

And although the definition above focuses on communities as geographic places, fishing communities also may be defined by shared occupation or interest. Examples include the West Coast groundfish trawl fishing community and the southern California sea urchin and sea cucumber dive community.

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