The Working Waterfront Coalition, working with legislators and state agencies, did the groundwork to establish Maine’s Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program, funded by a $12 million Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) bond issue that included $2 million for preserving working waterfront properties.

The funds are administered through the Department of Marine Resources and the Land for Maine’s Future program, which contract with Coastal Enterprises Inc, and the Island Institute to manage the project.

There were more than 100 inquiries into the program. Six projects were invited to submit applications and were approved for funding in January of this year.

The first round of state bond money allocated $1.3 million to preserve 6.82 acres of working waterfront property, providing access and services to more than 194 boats and supporting 400 jobs with income directly dependent on working waterfronts. Together the projects represented $7.5 million in income and payroll. Bond funds also provided leverage to secure property with a fair market value of over $4 million.

Applicants included two municipalities, a fishing co-op, a private commercial fisheries business, a land trust and a community-based nonprofit, and were geographically dispersed from Machiasport to Harpswell. Criteria for selection included: economic significance of the property, alternative properties, community support, threat of conversion and utility of the property.

The program re-opened March 1 to allocate the remaining $400,000 in bond funds. With evidence of the scarcity of coastal access from a mapping study (WWF March 07) and pent up demand, the remaining funds from the first $2 million bond will only scratch the surface of the problem.

A new legislative effort is already underway to ensure the continued funding of the state’s first-in-the nation program. The bill would allocate $20 million to continue the Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program.

According to George Lapointe, Commissioner of the DMR and the Chair of the LMF Board, “Maine’s working waterfronts are essential to the future of our fishing industry and to the character of the state. The Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program is an important new tool in our efforts to secure the state’s more than 39,000 fishing and related jobs – and the $750 million in state revenue those jobs provide and we have just begun to put this tool to work.” q

For more information about the Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program contact the program manager: Coastal Enterprises, Inc. at (207) 772-5356 or visit the website at