I am writing this letter on behalf of the following board presidents and the organizations they represent: Gerry Cushman of Port Clyde, with the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association; Kristan Porter of Cutler, with the Maine Lobstermen’s Association; and Rock Alley of Jonesport, with the Maine Lobstermen’s Union.

Fishermen are growing increasingly concerned about the future of Maine’s working waterfront. As Maine’s popularity grows, access to the water for passive recreation and tourism needs is usurping access to the water for traditional and potential commercial fishing activities in many of Maine’s coastal communities.

Fishermen are especially concerned about Portland’s working waterfront. Commercial Street is home to 100-plus fishermen, bait dealers, lobster buyers, seafood businesses and the Portland Fish Exchange, where almost all of Maine’s groundfish is landed. A current hotel proposal on Fisherman’s Wharf is challenging the dignity of the existing mixed-use zoning ordinances and, if approved, would open a path for others to also challenge the rules, increase the speculative value of other properties, alter the character of the waterfront and set a poor precedent for the rest of Maine’s coastal communities.

Maine without a fishing industry is inconceivable, and the effects would be innumerable. From Cutler to Portland, fishermen are genuinely concerned about the continued ability to have access to working waterfront infrastructure because of developments and land disputes.

We are not asking for all development to cease, but we are asking for everyone to take a step back and consider what’s most important to the future of Maine’s economy and way of life. Living in a fishing community is more than just boats and buoys; it’s strong family values, a willingness to help your neighbor and a way of life that is enviable to many other parts of the U.S. Mainers, let’s conserve a way of life and save the working waterfront.

For more information, contact [email protected].

Monique Coombs

Orr’s Island

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