Fisheries management is both an ecological and a social venture. After all, to achieve sustainable fish stocks, fisheries managers must gain the compliance, if not cooperation, of industry stakeholders. In New England (United States), this process is further complicated by sociocultural and political institutions around individual choice and mistrust of government. These challenges have been especially evident during Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidential administration, since a significant part of his political appeal is based on anti-government, anti-elite, and individualist ideologies. At the same time, a number of fishing communities in New England have side-stepped mistrust of the government and science through the creation of bridge organizations that connect industry stakeholders directly to sustainable practices. This article explores both the particular challenges posed by American norms around governance and individualism and the success of bridge organizations in overcoming the sustainability limitations set by those norms. Based on interviews with fisheries stakeholders like Ole, Stevie, and Jim (conducted between 2015 and 2019), this research explores identity built around individualism against the backdrop of the Trump administration and considers whether sustainability can once again be a part of what it means to be a “good fisherman” in New England. Ultimately, the paper contends that, in spite of deeply rooted norms around individualism and distrust of political and scientific authority, organizations that bridge fisheries stakeholders and fisheries managers can help to integrate sustainability practices into New England fishing communities.

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