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November 26, 2018

Portland fishermen protest waterfront development

Portland fishermen last week launched a social media campaign urging Portland officials and residents to protect the working waterfront and their livelihoods from development.

A group of Portland fishermen released a short video, “12 Little Wharves,” as part of the campaign. In the video, fishermen cite the economic activity generated by the wharfs for Portland and Maine in general.

“There’s no place left in America like Portland where we have these 12 little wharves that are so unique, that still produce product for the state,” fisherman Willis Spear Jr. says in the video. “They not only provide safe harbor to small vessels in a storm but they’re a big part of the economic engine for the city of Portland.”

The video's sponsors included nine local and statewide marine-related businesses and organizations and the owners of 14 fishing boats based in Portland Harbor and other fishing communities along the coast, including Harpswell, Stonington and Cutler, according to an emailed news release.

The campaign is aimed at fighting a hotel proposed for Fisherman's Wharf. According to the release, fishermen along the coast of Maine have become increasingly concerned over development pressures and access to the waterfront.

“Developments, private property owners, increasing cost of living by the water, ability to maintain and retain wharf infrastructure, and increasing tourism are putting pressure on the waterfront and ability to continue traditional industry activity such as fishing and transportation,” the release said.

"Commercial Street is a near-travesty now,” lobsterman Keith Lane told Maine Public upon the campaign’s launch. “Six, eight months a year, it's very hard to do business on Commercial Street, and that's because they have put too much activity in a small area."

At Fisherman’s Wharf on Commercial Street, Bateman Partners has plans to erect a hotel and retail complex, one of several waterfront development projects in Portland. 

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