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Maine's Working Waterfront

The bridge between the ocean and our communities

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Working Waterfront Inventory Project

A tool for municipal planning and preservation of the working waterfront

COMING February 2023

Coastal gentrification in Maine has intensified in the last few years due to COVID, an influx of out-of-state home buyers, and lifestyle changes that are drawing families to Maine's quintessential coastal communities. This has increased pressure on the working waterfront at a faster pace than many towns can keep up with, adapt to, and plan for.


In order to preserve the working waterfront and the industries it supports, especially commercial fishing, towns need to know what they have for working waterfront infrastructure in their community.


To address this, MCFA is working with Tidal Bay Consulting to develop a working waterfront inventory template. Completing this inventory will aid in towns' efforts to support municipal planning and to prioritize policies and funding for projects that preserve a resilient working waterfront.

For updates and to be notified when the report becomes available please join our e-mail list.

The State of Maine's Working Waterfront Report

With generous support from Ram Island Foundation and Maine Community Foundation donors, the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association was able to spend six months, from April – September 2019, visiting communities along the coast to examine the current status of infrastructure along Maine's coast.
This report 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 Maine's food system and economy. 
We hope it sparks new conversations and continues to shine a light on the needs of Maine’s commercial fishing communities.

Scuttlebutt: How to Live & Work in a Waterfront Community
(Harpswell Edition)


Scuttlebutt: How to Live and Work in a Waterfront Community'' is a collaborative effort among Harpswell organizations aimed at educating the current community and newcomers about living and working near the ocean. The partners in this effort are the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust (HHLT), the Holbrook Community Foundation, the Harpswell Anchor, and the Cundy’s Harbor Library.

“Scuttlebutt” includes information about the different types of fisheries in Harpswell, ways that homeowners can minimize their impacts on the town’s coastal environment, tips for cooking local seafood, and information about preserving access for future generations to work on the waterfront along with many other resources. The title of the guide speaks to its intention to provide the insider information, or “scuttlebutt” to those living and working on Harpswell’s waterfront in order to foster a sense of community and shared values.

Back in the early 1800s, the cask containing a ship's daily supply of fresh water was called a scuttlebutt. The crew would gather around the water keg and exchange gossip and rumors of voyages much like people at today's offices gather around the water cooler.

Portland's Working Waterfront

"The working waterfront is our collective connection to the sea, to the deep maritime tradition, to the work ethic and soul of this place. Men and women of the fishing community, for generations, have been willing to tackle the sea to return with harvest; always a life or death gamble. Hotels and condos become meaningless without the context of our fishing community. To lose our working waterfront would be to betray the cultural context of this state." 

- Joanne Arnold,

Portland photographer, Interfaith chaplain