PORTLAND, ME – Active waterfronts fuel coastal economies from Maine to Alaska, but demographic and financial changes threaten to transform America’s working shorelines. On Thursday, September 30, US Representative Chellie Pingree will charge working waterfront advocates with creating a national strategy for protecting and enhancing access for fishing, boating, and marine industries as part of the Working Waterways and Waterfronts National Symposium on Water Access.
Building on the inaugural symposium in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2007, participants at the Maine conference will learn about the economic, social, cultural, and environmental values of waterfronts, and the important role of water-dependent uses in sustaining coastal communities. Representatives from 21 states will present local and regional solutions for addressing water access challenges.
The tone for the conference—and charge for those attending to identify a national strategy for working waterways and waterfronts—will be set by Dr. Larry Robinson, deputy administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and by US Senator Susan Collins. Robinson, who is familiar with working waterfronts throughout the southeastern US, helps guide policy and program direction for NOAA’s conservation, protection and resource management priorities.
“Dr. Robinson will get the conference off to an exciting start,” said conference chair and lead organizer Natalie Springuel of Maine Sea Grant, noting that Maine was selected to host the second symposium because of the state’s leadership on working waterfront issues.
That leadership will be evident during a walking tour of the Portland waterfront on Tuesday, September 28. As reported by The New York Times, debate over what types of businesses belong on the Portland waterfront has heated up in recent months, a conflict that is familiar to coastal communities throughout the United States.
“The City of Portland is the ideal backdrop for designing a strategy to protect working waterfronts at the national level,” said Rep. Pingree. Both Pingree and Collins have sponsored bills that would create a federal funding mechanism for economically valuable waterfronts.
Other topics to be discussed during the three-day symposium include the effects of natural and man-made disasters on commercial fishing access along the Gulf Coast, integrating smart growth elements into waterfront planning, and waterfront diversification.
For more information and to register, visit www.wateraccessus.com.