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June 4, 2024

Portland councilors OK merger of Fish Exchange and Fish Pier Authority

aerial of wharf and buildings and cars File photo The Portland Fish Exchange is shown in the center of this aerial view of the Portland Fish Pier, looking south.

Portland City Council voted unanimously Monday to merge the Portland Fish Exchange into the Portland Fish Pier Authority, combining the two quasi-public organizations.

The council voted 8-0 to approve a merger proposal that was made in an effort to stabilize the budget and management of the fish exchange. The effective date of the tie-up is July 1.

The Portland Fish Exchange, which opened in 1986, houses near-daily auctions of fresh seafood and acts as a hub for buying and selling Maine groundfish. But as those fish stocks have declined, the exchange has struggled financially in recent years, forcing it to often rely on funding from the authority. 

A merger between the entities has been discussed for years as a way to shore up the financial and management stability of the auction house. Now a single board of directors will oversee a combined budget for the city's seafood-related functions.

“This order is really to merge two bodies that have existed for a long time. One is the Portland Fish Pier Authority and the Portland Fish Exchange,” said Councilor Anna Bullett. “Historically, they have both done separate work, but there is a lot of crossover.

"This will bring these two boards to one board. It will allow for more streamlined work and reduce duplication of some of the departments and services that are happening. It will hopefully open some really exciting opportunities in the way of climate change mitigation, fish process perhaps, new technologies and a new ice machine.”

The merged organization will be known as the Portland Fish Pier Authority and it will include the Portland Fish Exchange as an operational unit, according to a news release.

The city said it does not expect the merger to affect tenants, customers or employees of either organization.

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