The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association and Tidal Bay Consulting are providing a tool for towns to collect data on the infrastructure and economic impact of their working waterfronts in an effort to keep them open.

The Working Waterfront Inventory Template is designed to be especially useful for small coastal communities in the face of rising shoreline development.

“Before towns can address issues and plan for the future, they need to know what they have for working waterfronts,” said Jessica Joyce, principal of Tidal Bay Consulting, a nonprofit based in South Freeport that supports clients with projects centered around fisheries policy, ocean conservation, climate resiliency and environmental impact.

The idea for the template came up during discussions of “conflicts along the coast as a result of competing uses of the working waterfront,” Joyce said.

“You can’t measure some of the social and cultural elements, but you can measure the economics,” she said.

The template will help towns determine how much revenue the waterfront brings in for the town and its businesses, how many people are employed by the marine sector and how much public land access there is for shellfish fishing or commercial fishing.


Many towns lack adequate staffing to do that kind of research on their own, Joyce said, and the template is a tool that will make it easier for that work to be done.

“Some towns have one shellfish warden who’s also harbormaster, or a lot of work is done by volunteer committees,” she said. “A lot of times it comes down to capacity.”

Towns also may be “thinking more about the businesses on Main Street, not the fishing industry, which is probably bringing in as much, if not more, revenue.”

Harpswell Harbormaster Paul Plummer said the template is a welcome tool because towns “need to get a handle on what is still commercial fishing or working waterfront.”

“Communities struggle to find ways to identify what resources are available,” Plummer said, and the template will help them determine “what they have and what to focus on.”

Plummer said a huge part of the template is prioritizing and identifying public access to the waterfront and “keeping the working wharfs operating.”

Plummer said that once Harpswell has finished revising its comprehensive plan, he plans to use the inventory template and “put something together for the Harbor and Waterfront Committee and Marine Resources Committee.”

For more information or to view the complete template, go to

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