The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association recently received a grant from the Fisher Charitable Trust to begin work increasing mental health awareness and promote well-being for commercial fishermen.

“Maine’s fishermen and their communities are facing unprecedented changes that are beyond their control; from climate change to regulations, and an increasing cost of doing business. Commercial fishing is also one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States,” a news release from the association states.

“It’s important to me and my friends and family who go fishing that there are resources available that can help us deal with some of the challenges we are facing,” said Alex Todd, a commercial fisherman from Chebeague Island and association board member, said in the release. “There is so much we have to deal with right now and it’s really taking a toll on a lot of us. I think even just letting people know that some fishermen are pretty anxious and depressed right now is important.”

The lack of resources dedicated to fishing communities puts fishermen particularly at risk, according to the association, which hopes to learn lessons from the agriculture industry, which deals with many of the same stressors. Kansas recently announced a new program dedicated to farming families “coping with ag-related stress.” It is the hope of Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association that by starting this discussion and engaging with fishermen, that their health and wellbeing becomes a priority for Maine, according to the release.

“It is time for us as a state to invest in our fishermen just as much as we invest in our businesses,” said Ben Martens, executive director of the association. “We hope that by providing opportunities for mental health awareness and self-care education that we can give fishermen the resources they need to be healthy on the water and in their communities.”

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