The Island Institute’s Working Waterfront newspaper has an excellent November edition editorial in support of the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act of 2009, which is based on a successful model that has helped preserve working waterfront land in Maine:

As Maine’s working waterfront came under increasing pressure of residential development, advocates for water-dependent industries advanced an idea.

The concept was simple: use state bond money, combined with private funds, to permanently preserve waterfront land used for commercial fishing.

Dozens of groups persuaded voters to approve this new concept by a margin of 66 to 34 percent in the 2005 election.

The program is working. Since 2006, Maine’s Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program has saved 19 properties with a fair-market value of $17 million, using $5 million in state bond money. These 19 properties support almost 1,000 fishing-related jobs, which generate $40 million annually in income. This program has saved working waterfronts all along the coast, from Scarborough to Beals Island.

If it works in Maine, why not take this concept nationwide?

First District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree believes this program which is working so well in Maine, it can help waterfronts around the country, so she introduced the “Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act of 2009” in the U.S House of Representatives (bill H.R. 2548).

Pingree, who is from North Haven, knows first-hand that the heart and soul of many coastal communities is the working waterfront.

When waterfronts become dominated by expensive private homes and condos, then fishing boats, boatbuilders and marinas disappear. “These businesses, once the backbone of our coastal communities have moved or gone out of business entirely,” Pingree testified during a hearing on the bill before a Natural Resources subcommittee on October 20. “The conversion of working waterfronts to the mistakenly called ‘higher and better’ residential uses, displaces fishermen and others, who depend on working waterfronts, causing economic and cultural devastation to the coastal community.”

As far as Pingree is concerned, we are not doing enough to help working waterfronts, and it is time for the federal government to help out.

The Providence Working Waterfront Alliance strongly supports policy efforts like Maine’s Working Waterfront Access Pilot Program and the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act of 2009.

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