There is an eagerness to learn about what is happening on the waterfront that was palpable at this week’s panel presentation about the working waterfront in Freeport. Held in the lovely Meetinghouse Arts’ space on Main Street, there were more than 20 attendees in the pews of the former church and nearly a dozen more on Zoom who listened as the panelists discussed what it is like to work on the waterfront in Freeport and what some of the challenges are.

“Fisheries in Our Town” was the first presentation of its kind to be held in Freeport, following on similar events in the towns of Harpswell, Brunswick and Kennebunkport that have taken place over the last year and a half — all collaborations between local land trusts and Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association. Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association is a local nonprofit working to identify and foster ways to rebuild the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine’s fishing communities for future generations, along with local land trust partners. MCFA has organized and facilitated these panels in order to build better communications among those that live and work on the waterfront. Recordings and accompanying blog posts from prior events are available at

Panelists for the Freeport event, co-sponsored by the Freeport Conservation Trust, included Freeport’s Harbormaster Charlie Tetreau; Peter Millholland, of Seacoast Tours, a local charter boat company; Ken Sparta, an oyster and kelp farmer with Spartan Sea Farms; and Corey Wentworth, a local clam harvester. Questions from both the moderator and the audience included how to define the working waterfront. One of the audience members described it as “an attitude that a community takes towards those who work on the water.” This brought up a comment about the frequent lack of communication between coastal residents and those who work on the coast and how important it is to get to know each other.

“It’s hard to hate someone once you realize they’re a nice guy,” an audience member pointed out. That can apply even when something they are doing seems noisy or annoying, like the sounds of a loud engine, for example.

“Sometimes you feel like you’re looked at as a criminal. But really, we’re nice guys,” Wentworth said.

“You have to have conversations so that people can understand what we need to do and why,” Sparta said.


Milholland, a charter boat operator, added that he “tries to be a platform for those conversations” when he’s out on the water by explaining the types of activities they are seeing.

The evening ended on a high note with the question of “What’s your favorite waterfront spot in Freeport?”

“Well, I can’t tell you,” Tetreau said, which garnered laughter.

The event was followed by a reception at the Freeport Oyster Bar, co-owned by panelist Ken Sparta, who will be hosting another event this coming Tuesday, March 14, to benefit MCFA’s programs (ticket information is available at That event will include an oyster shucking class as well as samples of other local seafood accompanied by beverage pairings.

And please save the date for the next working waterfront panel discussion which will be co-hosted by the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust on April 6. The event will be free to the public but requires registration and will be available in person and by Zoom. More details to come.

Susan Olcott is the director of operations at Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.

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