Skip to main content

Catch Together: Bringing Innovation and Opportunity into Our Fisheries

Catch Together helps provide the next generation of fishers access to tools and resources that can help their businesses thrive in the face of industry challenges.

Environmental factors like rising sea temperatures, which impact fish habitats and migratory patterns; community factors like sustainable fishery management and the aging of the fishing sector; and economic factors like the cost of fishing equipment and permits create challenges for the next generation of fishers.

To help, Catch Invest combines fishing and finance to support fishers, fishing communities, and ocean conservation by deploying capital and generating financial returns. To further its mission, the Catch Invest team started Catch Together, a nationwide network that connects fishers to resources critical for success, including permits, best practices for sustainable fisheries management, and financial capital.

In the U.S., fishers must purchase permits to fish in certain areas during the specific fishing seasons. The permits set a quota for the amount of fish a fisher can catch. These permits help prevent overfishing and ensure fish populations in coastal communities are kept at sustainable levels. However, the high cost of fishing quota, as well as the costs of boats and equipment required to operate, were preventing many from entering the industry, especially young and BIPOC fishermen.

To usher in the next generation of fishers and help remove the financial barrier to entry, Catch Together developed a model that purchases fishing quotas and allows for the quotas to be leased by fishers. To ensure fishers have full ownership of their business at a rate that’s financially viable, Catch Together increases fishers’ ownership stake in the quotas over time. And the Catch Together fishing quota program does more than just give fishers access to fisheries – the program also helps improve how fisheries and the industry are managed through tools like the implementation of electronic monitoring and more sustainable fishing methods.

Catch Together is an innovative program that creates value for fishers, improves the environmental performance of fisheries, and keeps fishing permits and quota in the hands of the coastal communities whose economies rely on the fishing industry.

Stepping Up for Fishermen During COVID-19

Catch Together has been especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. As economies shut down and restaurants closed, the demand for fish dropped leaving fishers in financial limbo. To avoid watching fishing businesses shutter, Catch Together was able to provide fishers with capital necessary to continue their operations despite the uncertainty from the pandemic.

In Massachusetts, the pandemic shuttered restaurants, which in turn left fishers with a surplus of fish stock. But instead of letting Massachusetts fishers go out of business, Catch Together quickly developed a program to keep fishers fishing, while also helping those in the community who, due to the pandemic, were struggling to put food on the table by creating new distribution channels for fresh fish to go to local food banks.

In Alaska, Catch Together provided essential funds to keep local fisherman and coastal communities working and able to serve Pacific Northwest Tribal communities and Alaskan military families.

“The pandemic really created a lot of need around Alaska and around the country from loss of jobs,” said Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. “It’s just a particularly difficult time for people and then to be able to have really good quality food coming from Alaska’s healthy oceans—it’s just really special to be able to provide that and make those connections.”

So far, Catch Together’s COVID-19-related food assistance program has provided more than 2 million meals to food pantries and families in need and economic assistance to more than 2,000 fishermen and fish workers who rely on fishing as their main source of income. Catch Together provided security to fishers and coastal communities across the U.S., operating in 23 communities from Sitka, Alaska to Galveston, Texas, and Port Clyde, Maine to San Diego, California.

The Catch Together team has deep experience and expertise in financing as well as fisheries management. This makes Catch Together uniquely positioned to help fishers confront the challenges facing the industry today, whether it’s through deploying capital to support fishers, establishing programs for the communities dependent on a robust fishing industry, promoting ocean conservation, or providing the resources needed to ensure more sustainable fishery management.