Currently, Portland fishermen are especially concerned; there is a hotel being proposed to be built on the waterfront side of Commercial Street that could impact the fishing industry along the entire coast. Commercial Street is not just home to 100-or-so lobstermen, it’s also home to bait dealers, lobster buyers, and the Portland Fish Exchange where a majority of Maine’s groundfish fishermen land their fish. Although this hotel will not be specifically displacing any boat, it is the unintentional consequences and an increase in speculative property values that could have disastrous impacts on the industry, character, and culture that is Maine’s traditional way of life. If the hotel proposal continues to move forward it will alter the dignity of the current mixed-use ordinances and open a path to allow others to challenge the rules.
Many of the Portland fishermen that tie-up along Commercial Street have been meeting to identify ways to ensure that the Portland Council does not continue to allow the hotel to move forward. If Portland fishermen are successful in standing up to these changes, it will set a precedence along the entire coast that the working waterfront is critical to Maine’s future and our way of life.
MCFA has been working with the fishermen in Portland, as well as learning about other challenges facing coastal fishing communities like Boothbay Harbor, Harpswell, Scarborough, and Cape Elizabeth. Our goal is to ensure that Maine's fishing communities can thrive today, tomorrow, and into the future.
How you can help:
Learn more about the working waterfront and what that means for your community. How many working wharves are in your community? Have you lost access to any wharves? Are there protected right of ways for clam harvesters?
Are your neighbors connected to the fishing community? Ask them about what they know about the fishing community and why it's so important to conserve its culture and way of life. This is a time that calls for communication and stories to help people connect with the industry.
Read up about your town ordinances that are specific to the harbor, shoreland, and marine use. Questions? Go ask your town manager, town planner, or harbormaster.
DONATE. MCFA has been dedicating time and resources to set up a plan and actions to help conserve the working waterfront and educate others about its importance. As our work progresses, we are learning new ways that we can make a difference, and we need your help to do that...
Please contact Monique if:
You are concerned about issues around the working waterfront in your community
You would like to get more involved in the Portland working waterfront meetings
Photo credit: Knack Factory