Who We Are


Formed in 1991 by a group of fishermen, the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance has been working with fishermen for more than 30 years to create solutions for both a balanced ecosystem and profitable fishing communities. We are now a nationally recognized nonprofit organization and the leading voice for commercial fishermen on Cape Cod.


The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance is fishermen, community members, public officials and scientists working together to build creative strategies, advocate for improved marine policies, protect the ocean ecosystem, and ensure the viability and future of Cape Cod’s fisheries.


We believe that a healthy marine environment is essential to the success of Cape Cod’s fishing economy, and we know that better ways to manage our fisheries are needed to protect them. We are taking action now to make sure there will be a future for fish and fishermen by:
  • Working towards a healthy ocean environment with sustainable fishing practices.
  • Supporting the small boat independent fishing fleet by making sure they have a voice at the local, state, and federal level.
  • Engaging in fishermen-driven science and research to inform sensible and forward-looking fishing regulations.
  • Investing in fisheries to provide opportunities for today’s fishermen, and future generations, to build successful businesses.
  • Connecting the community to commercial fishermen to educate consumers on the history of the industry, the current challenges they face, and to create a connection to the food on their plates.

Celebrating 30 Years. Navigating 30 More.

First Decade: 1991-2001

The organization was formed out of crisis. The fishermen were concerned their livelihoods were at stake with the threat of fish depletion, fishing regulations that were not aligned with the reality of what they were seeing on the water, and the need to better organize to become part of the solutions to the challenges they were facing.

The focus was on:

  • Building a name for the Cape’s small-boat fishingfleet
  • Advocating for Habitat Protection
  • Filing a lawsuit against the federal government
  • Working to amplify their voices in front of the local, state and federal regulatory bodies
  • Campaigning for a seat on the New England Fishery Management Council
  • Establishing a 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit organization, The Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association

Second Decade: 2002-2012

The original group quickly grew and became a well-respected entity that started identifying challenges and searching for solutions that balanced out fishing issues with ocean and environmental issues. The organization became very active in policy work during these years while securing a seat at the decision-making table.

The focus was on:

  • Leading the way on extensive cooperative research projects on fish stocks
  • Getting the first staff member elected to the New England Fishery Management Council
  • Setting up the Sector Model to give communities control to manage allocation of fishing quota and permits
  • Forming the Fisheries Trust to purchase quota and permits to give Cape Cod fishermen first chance at securing rights to fish
  • Growing the organization funding and staff, and moved into the Captain Harding House

Third Decade: 2013-2021

Fishermen’s Alliance became an indispensable resource for Cape Cod’s fishing community. We are now the leading commercial fishing organization in New England and are a nationally recognized leader in advocacy for both fishermen and the marine environment. With a proven record for change and forward thinking, we were able to help implement lasting solutions to challenges, develop innovative programs and provide valuable resources to the fishing industry.

The focus was on:

  • Broadening the mission to include all gear types and fisheries and changed the name to Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance
  • Investing in A.R.C. shellfish hatchery for the community shellfishermen
  • Pioneering the use of sustainable hook and line gear to target abundant haddock in a previously closed fishing area
  • Strengthening community engagement and education –developing outreach programs like Meet the Fleet, Pier to Plate, Pier Host, and publishing a seafood cookbook
  • Expanding leadership roles by securing a seat for a staff member on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council
  • Growing the Electronic Monitoring Program -after 15 years of piloting the program, the New England Fisheries Management Council approved new groundfish regulations that will require full accountability for monitoring catch
  • Developing the inaugural Fishermen’s Training Program
  • Seeing The Young Fishermen’s Development Act pass into law after advocating for this measure for 6 years
  • After advocating for more than 15 years, the 20-mile midwater trawl buffer zone officially went into effect to remove the industrial-sized boats that deplete our inshore fishery and herring runs
  • Releasing the Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative Strategic Plan after 3 years of compiling data
  • Launching Haddock Chowder Program, “Small Boats, Big Taste” that went on to deliver close to a million servings of chowder to regional food banks