The March issue of Working Waterfront coincides with two significant early-spring events in coastal Maine: the annual Fishermen’s Forum in Rockport and the Maine Boatbuilders Show in Portland. Both bring together thousands, of people with an interest in boats, marine technologies, fishing, marine science, government regulation and dozens of other topics that are of critical importance to all of us who earn a living on this coast.

Both events have been around for 30 years, and have proven to be reliable indicators of where we are in the evolution Maine’s many-faceted marine industries. Want to learn what’s new in fishery regulation? In seafood processing? In groundfish research? Attend the Fishermen’s Forum. Small boat construction? Boat engines? New designs or ways of building? Restorations? The Boatbuilders Show is a good place to find out.

This year, one theme at both shows will surely be “sustainability.” The idea isn’t new, of course — the lobster industry has an admirable record of conserving its resource for the future, for example — but recent developments can be expected to shine a light on all of Maine’s fisheries and what they’re doing (or not doing) to preserve their resources and markets in an age of costly fuel, dwindling stocks, global markets and environmental degradation. At the Fishermen’s Forum the talk will be of “green” fishing techniques for the groundfishery and how the lobster industry can survive this year’s sharp decline in harvests.

At the Boatbuilders Show we’ll see the same thing. Boatbuilding is a material-intensive industry, and it’s no secret that the resources that supply it are becoming dear. Fiberglass, epoxies and glues are petrochemically-based products that have dozens of applications in boatbuilding, and their cost is tied to the world oil price. The woods commonly used in earlier times and still required by many builders are far less plentiful than they once were, and their increased cost can only add to the price of the finished product.

So it’s a good bet that the savvier members of the public attending both shows will be looking for evidence that the industries involved are exploring ways to be more efficient, less fuel-intensive, easier on the non-renewable materials and generally more environmentally friendly. We Americans have been resource rich for centuries. Our wealth has made us wasteful and sometimes heedless of the future. Now that’s changing fast, and those of us who learn to adapt to a new set of conditions will one day be able to look back and know we’ve done our part to save the world. If we don’t share that perspective, of course, we’ll have been part of the problem and not the solution. And we’ll also be out of business.