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Working Waterfront Panel: Accesss

What is access? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, access is “permission, liberty, or ability to enter, approach, or pass to and from a place or to approach or communicate with a person or thing.” Two words jump out of this definition - people and place. Both of these themes featured prominently in a recent panel discussion hosted by MCFA that considered what access means along Harpswell’s waterfront.

"Access for the Fishing Community,” was the latest in a series entitled “Living and Working in a Waterfront Community: A Conversation Series,” presented by Harpswell Anchor, the Cundy’s Harbor Library, the Holbrook Community Foundation, the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA), and Harpswell Heritage Land Trust (HHLT). The collaborating organizations initiated this series in the fall in order to create a dialogue about the working waterfront among members of the community who bring different perspectives and experiences.

The “Access” conversation was the first of two spring events, the second of which will be in June and will focus on etiquette on the waterfront. The panelists included Robert Boyce, a local clam harvester who is also involved in other fisheries including lobstering and is a member of the Harpswell Marine Resources Committee, and Mary Ann Nahf, representing the town of Harpswell as the Chair of Harpswell’s Conservation Commission, and Ben Martens, Executive Director of Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, who addressed issues beyond the intertidal including access to permits, fishing grounds, and waterfront facilities for fishermen.

Panelist Boyce commented, “Talk to us and you’ll find we’re pretty nice. It just takes starting a conversation. Tell us what works for you. If you don’t want us there are certain days of the week or certain times of the day, we can do that.” Cundy’s Harbor Library Director Heather Logan, an event collaborator, added an anecdote about her 97-year-old mother who has long-established relationships with harvesters who access the flats from her property. “My mother says, “This is my land, but your path,” says Logan. “It’s a beautiful relationship.”

MCFA’s Ben Martens ended the night by saying, “People are good at the end of the day. People come here because they love it and they want to care. We have to give them the tools to do that.”

  • To listen to recordings of the prior presentations, you can access them HERE.

  • Click here to register for June 15th’s “Etiquette on the Waterfront.”

This article was excerpted from an article in the June issue of the Harpswell Anchor.



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