About Us

Our Mission

NAMA is a fishermen-led organization building a broad movement toward healthy fisheries and fishing communities.

We build deep and trusting relationships with community based fishermen, crew, fishworkers and allies to create effective policy and market strategies.

Our History

NAMA was born in 1995 by a group of fishermen and fishing community advocates to explore an alternative management structure. They believed there had to be a better approach to protecting our oceans and manage marine resources. With Captain Craig Pendleton at the helm, NAMA set out on a decade-long pursuit of collaborative research and visioning toward realizing community and ecosystem based management. With the departure of Captain Pendleton in late 2007, the board of trustees set out to hire a new director and established new programs that drew their strength from the strong foundation already laid. Read more about our history.

Our Values

The Power of Small and Medium-scale community-based Fisherman

Small and medium scale community-based fishermen bring high value to to marine ecosystems, coastal communities, working waterfronts, local and regional economies, and our food systems. They must be the leading voice in finding solutions that support new approaches to managing fisheries and seafood markets.

Dignity for all People

Marginalization of any peoples is rooted in a long history of racism, exclusion, and oppression. All those in our seafood value chain and fishing communities must be in control of the price they are paid, be paid fair wages, and afforded lives with dignity.

Human and Environmental Issues are One

Our treatment of humans is inextricably tied to our treatment of the earth and all its inhabitants.  Measuring sustainability must include the inexcusable damage of modern day slavery, loss of fishing traditions, and equitable food access.

Equitable Access and Fair Markets

Existing market strategies threaten the continued survival of small and medium-scale community-based fishermen, and equitable access by all to seafood caught by these fishermen.

Our Vision

We see a future where a powerful network of community-based fishermen, crew, fishworkers, and their allies are organized effectively toward a future where:

  • Marine ecosystems are protected from industrialization, privatization, and over-exploitation.
  • Vibrant and viable fishing communities are thriving and supporting community-based fishermen.
  • Fishermen are economically empowered as the compensation for their catch is meeting their true cost of operations.
  • Scale of fishing operations, and the gear used to fish – both commercial and recreational – match the scale of the ecosystem in which fishing occurs.
  • Diversity of species that reflect fishermen’s true catch is embraced by eaters.
  • Fishworkers and crew along the seafood value chain are paid fairly, have safe working conditions free of threats, racism and intimidation, and have a voice in the workplace.
  • Fishermen’s catch feeds their local and regional food systems first before entering the global market.
  • Transparent, participatory, and localized decision-making processes are in place to govern and manage fisheries.
  • Scientific research genuinely includes community-based fishermen.
  • People of all races, incomes, cultural backgrounds, and ethnicities can afford food from the ocean.

Our Theory of Change

  • The ocean is in an unhealthy state due to multiple stressors including: climate change, toxic pollution, clear cutting of forests, ocean acidification, fishing activities, industrial agriculture, industrial mining and drilling, seismic testing, privatization, consolidation, and more. We need to address all of these issues in order to have a holistic approach to marine conservation and fisheries management.
  • Small and medium scale community-based fishermen must be the leading voice for the changes we seek. In order to do this they must be supported by networks of diverse stakeholders that are well-connected, aligned around shared values, action oriented, and working from the bottom up.
  • We must organize deliberately and work at the “speed of trust” to ensure long-term connectivity and alignment within our networks.
  • We leverage the purchasing power of the seafood market to change necessary policies on local, national, and international level that address both fishing and non-fishing issues.
  • We shift purchasing power to increase market demand for the true catch of the fishermen we work with.
  • This collective force broadens our base of support to create the changes we believe are necessary to realize our vision.

Our Strategic Filters

  • Our work will always be led by community based fishermen and fishing communities.
  • We will only ally ourselves with groups, stakeholders, communities, etc. that share our values, and we will participate in events and opportunities only if we can bring our point of view to the conversation.
  • We will not support policies that privatize the ocean.
  • We do not support factory fishing operations. 
  • To allow us the independence we require to address public policy, we will not take funding from sources that can 1) limit what we can do 2) legitimize policies and strategies we don't agree with, and, 3) shut the door on our ability to organize in family fishermen.
  • We want to build a movement not an empire; to that end, we do not want our organization's annual operating budget to exceed $1 million.

Our Funding

Although we have in the past, today NAMA does not currently solicit contributions from government sources. With very few exceptions, we don’t solicit contributions from corporations. We make an exception when it comes to companies that explicitly align with our purpose and demonstrate a commitment to our purpose and mission. To help us in that process, we confer with our friends at 1% For the Planet, New Economy Coalition, and the American Sustainable Business Council, both of which NAMA is a member. We rely entirely on individual donations and foundation support. We choose the foundations we work with very carefully to make sure we are not partnering with those who support the kind of policies that we are fighting to right. That means your support provides the backbone of our organization and is invaluable to our efforts. To give to NAMA, click here. To see a list of our funders, click here.