In the State of Maine's Working Waterfront report, whether public or private infrastructure, parking along the waterfront was repeatedly cited during surveys and interviews as a source of conflict and potential barrier to commercial fishermen gaining access to their boats in an efficient and timely manner. This includes spaces for vehicles, trailers, and boats, and can have real financial consequences when fishermen need to budget extra time in their day to address parking and/or the cost of parking increases due to market pressure.
Most working waterfront areas have parking issues that are exacerbated in the summer months when tourists and recreation users increase in an area.
Parking in coastal communities in Maine is becoming an increasing issue for everyone, not just commercial fishermen, but it is imperative that designating parking for commercial fishermen is included in any town plan investigating ways to mitigate parking issues.
It is also important to consider the seasonality of many of Maine’s coastal communities and identify how to accommodate fluctuating use that dramatically increases in the summer months.
(Image) Attention Fishermen: The board of selectmen has changed the date for the use of the fishermen's storage area. Beginning May 15th annually, all items much be removed from the fishermen's storage area. Failure to remove your items may result in removal and storage fees at a cost to the owner. (The original sign showed a date of July 1.)
Parking for commercial shellfish harvesters can be especially difficult with a limited number of access points to launch a small boat and park a trailer. It is important to not only protect waterfront properties and their related infrastructure but the land adjacent to the waterfront that has the potential to be used as parking is an important asset as well. In numerous communities, the ability to store, maintain, and repair gear was also cited as extremely limited and a factor contributing to the viability of working waterfront.
Many fishermen are moving further from the coast to be able to afford a home and inland communities may be less accustomed to seeing numerous traps, buoys, and nets being stored in front yards. And while moving further inland may save some money on mortgage payments and rents, traveling to and from the coast with gear increases the cost of doing business for fishermen in terms of both time and money. A major gear reduction or closure in the lobster industry would place major pressure on lobstermen not just to adapt to this change in their business, but to identify where to store their gear if they are unable to use it at sea.
The State of Maine's Working Waterfront is a report that shares information accumulated from interviews, conversations, meetings, and research to help elevate the value and attention paid to working waterfronts for commercial fishing and provide suggestions for how to protect this valuable part of Maine's food system and economy.
As MCFA started outreach to share some of the information in the report, well, 2020 happened. We are sharing parts of the report in blog posts and hope it will spark new conversations and continue to shine a light on the needs of Maine’s commercial fishing communities.