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Maine Coastal Town Enacts Moratorium on Cruise Ships

More than 100 Southwest Harbor residents turned out in force Tuesday evening to unanimously enact a 180-day moratorium against the use of any town facilities by cruise ships.

Local residents and fishermen fought back against a proposed visit next month by the 210-passenger ship, the Pearl Mist, arguing that the 310-foot vessel would rip up fishing gear.

Maurice Joseph Marshall served as moderator of the special town meeting on the moratorium. He said most Southwest Harbor residents appreciate the differences between their community and Bar Harbor, which already has a busy cruise ship schedule.

"This is a boat-building and fishing community," said Marshall. "It is traditionally a community more similar to Northeast Harbor in that you have summer folk who have been here for generations., sometimes three or four generations, so this side of the island, like Tremont, is not as commercially oriented."
 
After the meeting, harbor master Adam Thurston said working fishermen could have paid a big price had residents voted the ban down.
 
"The amount of damage that this kind of activity does to our local fishing gear - and they're the people who are in town and who are here year-round, buying things from the shops, going out to supper," said Thurston. "Those are the townspeople that we need to maintain and make sure that they know they're welcome to come here and stay and be able to make a living."
 
Last year, the Pearl Mist anchored off Northeast Harbor and town residents voted to ban the vessels. The neighboring community of Tremont is also weighing a possible ban.