PORTLAND — Representatives from 21 states will be in Portland next week for a national symposium on protecting the working waterfront.

The Working Waterways and Waterfronts National Symposium on Water Access will begin on Monday with field trips to several locations, including the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Flying Point Oyster Farm in Freeport’s Maquoit Bay.

It ends on Thursday with a debate on national policy issues.

The keynote speakers on Tuesday are Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and Larry Robinson, the assistant secretary for conservation and management for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Both Pingree and Collins have sponsored bills that would create a federal funding mechanism for protecting economically valuable waterfronts.

The National Sea Grant program, which is administered by NOAA, is the primary sponsor. Other sponsors include National Fisherman magazine and the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The Maine Sea Grant program is coordinating the event.

The conference will take place at the Holiday Inn by the Bay. It costs $375 to attend the four-day conference, but people can also register for one day at a lower cost.

To register, call 622-5330. Click here to view the conference’s agenda.