BANGOR, Maine — Three Maine communities were selected recently to share more than $700,000 in funding under the state’s Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program.
The Vinalhaven Fishermen’s Co-op, the Friendship Lobster and Realty Co-op, and the Pine Point Municipal Pier in Scarborough were chosen to receive awards that are designed to help preserve Maine’s commercial fishing industry.
The pilot program is a joint venture between the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Land for Maine’s Future Program.
“DMR is very proud that this pilot program has been so successful in reaching exactly those types of properties which will make the greatest contributions to Maine’s fishing future,” said DMR Commissioner George Lapointe, who also is chairman of the Land for Maine’s Future board.
Maine voters approved funding for the working waterfront program in 2005 and 2007. So far, $3.6 million out of a total $5 million has been awarded to 14 properties across the state, and grants will be given as long as money is available.
In all cases, funding is used to purchase a “working waterfront covenant” that effectively restricts any future development that conflicts with fisheries uses. The program was conceived in part because of the amount of oceanfront property in Maine that has been bought by wealthy out-of-state investors.
With the three recent awards, the program has supported an estimated 700 families that rely on fishing for their livelihood. On Vinalhaven, an island off the coast in Knox County, nearly 50 percent of families earn their living by fishing. The award will protect 1 acre of waterfront and 320 acres of deep-water frontage that can accommodate 60 fishing boats.
“The program is great for us,” said Ted Lazaro, president of the Vinalhaven Fisherman’s Co-op. “The purpose, to ensure that shorefront facilities remain available for commercial fishermen, is completely consistent with the mission of our co-op.”
Lazaro said the funds also will help pay for a new bait cooler. As finding dependable supplies of bait becomes more difficult, he said, the option of refrigerating and freezing bait can go a long way.
The Friendship Lobster and Realty Co-op plans to use its award to purchase 0.4 acres for gear storage and renovate its wharf to improve competition and encourage new membership.
The town of Scarborough will use its funding to improve the municipal dock, which is used regularly by 25 lobster fishermen and more than 40 clam harvesters.
Funds are still available under the pilot program, and its coordinators urge fishermen, commercial property owners and municipalities to apply.
To learn more about the Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program or to receive an application, call 772-5356 or go online at www.wwapp.org.