A Richmond-based lobster processing company that will be expanding onto the Portland waterfront later this year said Tuesday it has no intention of disturbing a landmark mural known as the Whaling Wall.

The marine life artist known as Wyland, who painted the Portland mural 21 years ago, praised Shucks Maine Lobster for “taking the high road and being considerate” of his artwork. Since 1993, Wyland has painted 100 life-size marine murals – known as Whaling Walls – in cities around the world.

“I think it will serve as a complement to their business,” Wyland, who lives in California, said in an interview Tuesday night.

Wyland said he is planning to return to Maine next year to touch up the mural, which has faded since he painted the 950-foot-long piece on a corrugated metal wall of the city-owned Portland Ocean Terminal in June 1993. The mural depicts an 82-foot-long finback whale, two bottle-nosed dolphins, two minke whales and several white-sided Atlantic dolphins swimming in the ocean.

Last week, Shucks Maine Lobster was given unanimous site plan approval by the Portland Planning Board to occupy up to 33,700 square feet of space at the Portland Ocean Terminal building on the Maine State Pier.

Shucks’ 15-year lease agreement with the city will allow it to occupy 18,800 square feet in 2014, with the square footage gradually increasing over time.

But in order to move into the building, Shucks Maine Lobster will need to install a new loading dock, a new entrance and a nitrogen tank for flash-freezing lobsters. Shucks will need to cut holes in the building’s corrugated metal wall to accommodate the dock and entrance.

“Our project will have no impact on that (mural),” Charlie Langston, Shucks’ chief operating officer, said Tuesday. “All of the stuff that we will be doing will take place below the whale mural. The loading dock will be located below the Whaling Wall.”

The mural is regarded as a landmark by people who frequent the waterfront. It faces the Casco Bay Ferry Lines docks and passenger terminal, which handles thousands of visitors, especially during the summer months.

City officials have welcomed the seafood processing project, saying it is a use well-suited for the working waterfront. Shucks’ Portland operation will employ about 70 workers once it is fully operational.

In its application to the city, Shucks said the expansion project will cost an estimated $3 million. The company plans to process 4 million to 6 million pounds of lobster each year.

Jessica Grondin, the city of Portland’s spokeswoman, said Shucks has assured city officials that the Whaling Wall will not be altered, though that was not a condition of Planning Board approval.

“There will be no impact to the Whaling Wall, which is located on the upper sections of the wall,” Grondin said. “The cuts will be made to the lower part of the wall.”

Grondin said the city is excited about Shucks coming to Portland.

“It’s just another step in our efforts to reactivate the working waterfront, especially with the return of the ferry service. We like to say that all of this will put the port back in Portland,” Grondin said.

Meanwhile, the 57-year-old Wyland, whose full name is Robert Wyland, said he is pretty certain he will return to Portland sometime next year. He often returns to the cities that host his work, offering to retouch paintings that have faded over time.

“That mural in Portland is both art and science. It is important to have it there,” Wyland said.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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