October 23, 2019
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Efforts to preserve 6 endangered Maine working waterfront sites receive $1 million boost

Courtesy of Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation
Courtesy of Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation
Just as Maine Preservation announced this week that the Boothbay Harbor working waterfront was one of its most endangered historic places in the state, a non-profit group, Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation, announced it has a purchase and sale agreement to buy the Sea Pier, a commercial lobster buying business.

The Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation is among six working waterfront projects to share more than $1 million in funds from Land for Maine’s Future to support working waterfront access.

Through the Working Waterfront Access Protection Program, $1.14 million has been set aside to purchase development rights through a legally binding agreement between the state and working waterfront owners, in order to ensure the properties remain available to support commercial fishing or aquaculture, according to a release from the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

The $301,500 “preliminary allocation” to the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation will help fund demolition and reconstruction of Carter’s Wharf on Atlantic Avenue in Boothbay Harbor, home to 30 lobster fishing boats and a lobster buying station run by Luke’s Lobster.

The wharf could potentially serve an additional 10 to 15 boats, as well as aquaculture operations and allow crab and tuna to be landed, according to the release.

In November, just as Maine Preservation announced that the Boothbay Harbor working waterfront was one of its most endangered historic places in the state, the nonprofit Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation announced it had a purchase and sale agreement to buy the Sea Pier, a commercial lobster buying business.

In the past six years, liquor baron Paul Coulombe has purchased more than 55 properties in the Boothbay area, including significant waterfront property. He told the Bangor Daily News he expected to close on additional properties in November, but before that happened, a group now known as the Boothbay Regional Maritime Foundation rallied to save the Sea Pier, from where about 30 of the town’s 110 or so lobstermen fish.

The group met with Sea Pier owner Douglas Carter and before long signed a purchase-and-sale agreement that includes covenants that require the property to be maintained as a commercial lobster buying business.

We are thrilled to see the state beginning to make investments to rebuild Maine’s working waterfront,” Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, said in an email. “Unfortunately, these projects represent only a small fragment of what is needed to secure safe access and harbor for Maine’s fishermen. The best seafood in the world comes across these docks, and we need to start investing in our waterfront in the same way as we invest in our farms and forests.”

Lobster co-op Interstate Lobster Inc. in Harpswell received a preliminary allocation of $155,000 to fund demolition, replacement and expansion of an existing wharf at 241 Ash Point Road.

The project will improve the structural integrity of the 1978 wharf, which has cracked and split underpinnings that have cost $10,000 to $30,000 per year to maine.

Stonington Co-op on Indian Point Road, which currently supports 40 fishing vessels that harvest lobster and scallops, received a preliminary allocation of $216,250 to conduct site work to improve shipping and receiving of lobsters and bait, according to the release.

The expansion will allow the co-op to provide additional shoreside resources for aquaculture operations, according to the release. Plans include building a 2,000-square-foot wharf to allow boats to unload light gear. It will also provide 12 additional parking spaces.

The town of Jonesport received a preliminary allocation of $118,750 for site design and engineering, access road and parking development and installation of a boat ramp and two floats at Henry’s Point, currently the site of a campground. The site will continue to support recreational activity, but will be developed as a commercial site to relieve pressure on a nearby state-owned marina, which provides the only public boat access in the town, which is home to 500 commercial fishermen, according to the release.

In New Harbor, Wotton’s Lobster Wharf, LLC, will use a preliminary allocation of $68,750 to install an above-ground fuel tank, additional storage and a new float with lobster crate storage at its Southside Road location.

According to the release, Wotton’s Lobster Wharf is currently used by four vessels year-round for lobster and bluefin tuna fishing. Improved infrastructure could potentially allow the addition of four full-time fishing crews and vessels, according to the release.

Finally, the Spruce Head Fisherman’s Co-op in South Thomaston will use a $276,000 allocation to pay off a loan used to purchase adjacent property to be used to expand parking and storage for the co-op’s 54 members. The co-op will then refinance the property and use the money to install a bait freezer, which will help members address potential bait shortages, according to the release.

The Working Waterfront Access Program, part of the Land for Maine’s Future Program, is a project designed to support projects that sustain access to the waterfront for commercial fishing and aquaculture in exchange for development rights through a Working Waterfront Covenant.

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