A Study of Working Waterfronts in 25 Maine Communities The changing constituency in coastal Maine...
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Preserving CommercialFishing Access:A Study of Working Waterfrontsin 25 Maine Communities
Unless you can parka truck, access means
Property is beingsold off. Houses areselling for at least
200% of their value.In a few years it willjust be a few co-ops
that are left providingaccess.
New coastalproperty ownersdont understand
the historicalrights that peoplehave to access the
The picture shows how a private landownerwho abuts a town access point has land-scaped across the right of way.
The picture shows one of the co-opsin Bristol that help assure commercialfishing access.
Table of ContentsIntroduction ........................ 4
Findings &recommendations ................. 5
Methodology ........................ 7
Analysis of issues & trends ..... 9
Maps ................................. 17
Key to town profiles ............ 18
Town profiles ..................... 20
Appendix .......................... 30
Pre-development matrix .... 30
Vulnerability matrix ......... 31
Town questionnaire .......... 32
Acknowledgements .......... 34
Preserving Commercial Fishing Access:A Study of Working Waterfronts in 25 Maine Communities
A report by Coastal Enterprises, Inc. submitted to theMaine State Planning Office Coastal Program
Produced and written by: Elizabeth Sheehan & Hugh Cowperthwaite
Advisors: Kathleen Leyden, Maine State Planning Office; Jim Connors, Maine State PlanningOffice; Steve Train, Commercial fisherman; Sue Inches, Maine Department of Marine Resources; Benjamin Neal, Island Institute;Yvette Alexander, Maine Fishermens Wives Association; David Etnier, Maine State Legislature
Graphic design: Tina Tarr Design
Photos & maps: Hugh Cowperthwaite (additional photos borrowed from the Maine Department of Transportation)
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. mission statement: to help people and communities, particularly those with low incomes, reach anadequate and equitable standard of living, working and learning, in harmony with the natural environment.
Funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, under theCoastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) of 1972, as amended. The CZMA is administered in Maine by the State Planning OfficesMaine Coastal Program.
Printed on recycled paper. Coastal Enterprises, Inc. December 2002. A publication of
CEI CoastalEnterprises,Inc. Maine Coastal Program
Recent testimonies and hearings on the issue contribute to the concern thatthis small patch is shrinking. Many towns are, or soon will be, facing impor-tant planning and investment decisions about their waterfronts.
Historically, these 7,000 miles have served and supported a range of humanneeds from industrial and commercial to residential and recreational activi-ties, from bulk cargo and fishing to houses and parks. The recent downturnin the stock market has steered investors into the current rush to purchasesummer homes with waterfront access. Traditional water-dependent uses arefeeling the pinch. Commercial fishing and recreational traffic are all vying forincreasingly expensive waterfront real estate. Basic questions about who canafford to live and work along Maines waterfront are being raised.
This report and study is specifically concerned with the issue of commercialfishing access. It focuses on where the roughly 10,300 fishermen and womenwill unload their catch, buy ice and fuel, park their trucks and access theirboats. Why is this important? Our commercial fishing industry makes a valu-able and important contribution as a producer of high quality protein tofeed our families, as a generator of over 26,000 jobs, and as a creator of realincome for Maines rural communities. In 2001, the industrys economic im-pact climbed to over $860 million from $773 million the year before.2
In October of 2001, the Maine State Legislature convened a taskforce to betterunderstand the threats to commercial fishing access. The taskforce heard fromfishermen, municipal officials, and coastal residents who offered testimony oflost access in their town: no trespassing signs across paths to clam flats, growingcongestion on municipal piers, and working wharves converted into summerresidences. Aside from stories like these and the 25 miles figure, the taskforcehad almost no other data. As part of their recommendations, they agreed to a
need for a systematic assessment of thecurrent conditions and threats to com-mercial fishing access, as well as a needfor tracking this issue over time.
In response, the State Planning Officecontracted with Coastal Enterprises, Inc.,to assess the status of commercial fishingaccess through a survey of 25 coastalfishing towns and to make recommen-dations regarding monitoring thisissue in the future. The study includeda review of two previous studies anddatabases on waterfront facilities, andinterviews with 90 municipal officials,staff, waterfront committee members,commercial fishermen and harbor mas-ters. We also analysed secondarydevelopment data (economic and de-mographic) and commercial fishinglicenses to round out the informationon the importance of the industry andto distinguish between differentdevelopment pressures experienced byvarious towns. Following the methodssection we have summarized majorfindings and recommendations. Theanalysis of issues and trends sectionoffers details and discussion for eachsurvey question response. Each townhas a summary profile that offers anat-a-glance summary of commercialfishing access statistics and responsesas well as the average numbers and re-sponses from the total 25-town sample.
When you trace the tidal shore land from Kitteryto Eastport, Maines coast measures about 7,000miles long. At last count, working waterfrontsrepresent a mere 25 miles of this coastline.1
1 Source: Maine State Planning Office, 20002 Source: This figure represents the economic impact of Maines fish and shellfish landings. For every dollar of landed value generated, $2.39 isgenerated in income. (Source: Jim Wilson, Resource Economist, University of Maine, Orono and NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Servicewww.nefsc.nmfs.gov/press_releases /news00_16.htm-12 August 3, 2001.)
The changing constituency in coastal Maine has and will have an impacton how waterfronts are valued and used. Cost of living & housing are mak-ing it more difficult for working families to live in coastal communities. Asmore fishermen commute from inland homes to use waterfronts, there isa danger that local residents will choose to change waterfront uses. Thishas implications for long-term use of waterfronts in Maine.
The challenge here on preserving commercial fishing access/working wa-terfronts is that, to date one of the most effective tools used to preventconversion is exclusive zoning, which limits property rights and thereforeproperty values. For the 25 towns studied 40% of the commercial fishingaccess is provided by private residences. It raises tremendous concernand genuine opposition when working families are asked to limit the valueof one of their major, if not only, assettheir land and property.
Loss of commercial fishing takes many forms, which adds to the complexityof tracking it and strategies to respond to it: We have identified six kinds
1.Access to inter-tidal areas lost through no trespassing signs2.New coastal property owners closing off/contesting public access3.Commercial fishing access tenuous through lease arrangements4.Singular reliance on public facilitycompetition from other users5.Land-use access problem: limited parking6.Conversion of working wharves to residential/recreation
There is strong support and concern for protecting commercial fishing ac-cess. 64% of the 25 towns surveyed indicated that access is a problemnow. 80% of the 25 towns surveyed are planning to address this issue.They are using a variety of strategies: first right and refusal on waterfrontproperty(Phippsburg); purchasing land, improving facilities through SmallHarbor Improvement Program (SHIP); working with land trusts (Machiasport);access rights through summer residentsuse and deeds (Winter Harbor, BlueHill, Summer Island); fishing cooperatives purchasing land, towns working oneconomic development issues with fishing industry (Bath); priority lists formoorings for commercial fishing (capacity to hand it down); towns working to-
Findings & recommendations
gether to create resource access.(Stonington & Isle au Haut); eminentdomain (Addison).
For the 25 towns surveyed, com-mercial fishing access is providedthrough publicly-owned facilities,privately-owned commercial piersand through private resident-ownedwharves: 25% by publicly ownedfacilities; 75% private, which con-sists of 35% private commercialand 40% private residential. Onthe one hand this shows the impor-tance of and the reliance we have onprivate resident working wharves toinsure access for commercial fishing.It is not surprising that, as shown be-low, 84% of the towns voted forproperty tax relief as a key strat-egy for preserving access. The factthat commercial fishing access isprovided by both public and privatefacilities/residences highlights theneed to distinguish strategies andtools for each.
Public sector: Public infrastruc-ture grants are a critical strategyfor creating, improving and pre-serving publicly-owned commer-cial fishing access. The SHIP pro-gram is in high demand fromcoastal towns and needs addi-tional money to support the pro-
gram. The Land for Maines Futureand Economic Development Ad-ministration programs have alsobeen used for land acquisition andpier cons