The last privately owned fishing dock was sold out of its traditional fishing use in Bar Harbor this summer despite the best attempts of a group of local fishermen. The property, known as Fishermen’s Wharf, has been providing access to fishermen for at least the past 47 years. During this time various owners/fishermen had allowed others in the community to use the wharf as an access point. Listed at roughly $3 million, the property contained an all-tide access wharf in need of repair, a lobster buying station, a restaurant and bar and a souvenir shop.

Bar Harbor fishermen looked at a range of financing options including private donations and bank loans to raise the $3 million needed to buy the property and make improvements. They received support from the Working Waterfront Investment Initiative and learned that they might be able to break if they could run the properties businesses at capacity. Still, equity to get a loan of $3 million was not readily available and “the amount of lobster that would have to be landed to pay the mortgage would have been astronomical,” according to someone close to the deal. In the end, the deal fell through.

Expressing complete dismay, one local fisherman reflected, “we are left working from a crowded the town dock, our floats and moorings… the way this property went was a shame.” Added a community member involved in the attempted purchase, “If we had known that there was $200,000 available to go into this purchase there might have been a chance.” He continued, “if funds were available to redevelop a bulkhead or expand the town pier then there may still be a way to avoid the problem of having Bar Harbor fishermen lining up to offload gear at the public landing… waiting in line rather than fishing.”

The Fishermen’s Wharf lobstermen remain optimistic. The new property owner may allow them to continue fishing from the property. Fishermen are considering the formation of a cooperative or an association, and they will begin holding working waterfront workshops beginning in October to further develop their strategy for access. But in the end, groups such as this will need money, or access to it, if they’re to prevail in crisis situations.