© 2024 Maine Public | Registered 501(c)(3) EIN: 22-3171529
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Scroll down to see all available streams.

New law could make it easier to preserve 20 remaining miles of Maine working waterfronts

Lobster traps line the shore on a sunny November day in Gouldsboro, Maine.
Esta Pratt-Kielley
Maine Public
Lobster traps line the shore on a sunny November day in Gouldsboro, Maine.

Out of 5,300 miles of Maine coastline, just 20 are considered working waterfronts, places where fishermen pack bait, unload their catch and dock their boats.

But a new law may make it easier to preserve what working coastline remains.

The demand for coastal properties continues to grow, but the red-hot real estate market has meant that waterfronts once used by commercial fishermen, aquaculture and the businesses that support them are vanishing.

The Land for Maine's Future program has preserved 34 working waterfront properties over the last 15 years, according to the Island Institute. But the program depends on state funding. And municipal programs often aren't in the best position to protect a property from a quick or competitive sale, said Nick Battista, chief policy officer for the Island Institute.

A new law signed by Gov. Janet Mills last week is designed to help by providing more options to close these complex deals.

"It broadens the pool of people who are allowed to hold a working waterfront covenant, to include land trusts that are looking out for their community," Battista said.

Land trusts know how to mobilize private sector resources quickly, Battista said. Working waterfront covenants ensure that future development will not limit commercial marine use on the land.