Working Waterfront Inventory Template For Maine Towns

Coastal gentrification in Maine has intensified in the last few years due to COVID-related migration that resulted in an influx of out-of-state home buyers, and lifestyle changes that are drawing families to Maine's quintessential coastal communities. These drivers have increased pressure on the working waterfront at a faster pace than many towns can keep up with, adapt to, and plan for. The working waterfront along Maine’s coast is critically important to a community’s economy and culture, and despite the statewide importance, much of the infrastructure is managed at the municipal level. In an effort to address coastal development and conflicts involving working waterfront properties and zoning, communities are exploring ways to understand and protect the working waterfront.

One of the first steps to preserving working waterfront infrastructure, and the businesses and culture it supports, is to collect baseline information that not only identifies the location of the working waterfront and intertidal access points, but also measures it at a more granular level. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of resources available to support towns as they work to understand the needs of the working waterfront. Further, the tools that are available do not necessarily support efforts to incorporate the working waterfront into climate resiliency and comprehensive planning.

To address this, the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA) and Tidal Bay Consulting are developing a Working Waterfront Inventory Template.  This is a tool for towns to collect data on working waterfront infrastructure, the local economic impact of fisheries and aquaculture, and other important social and economic indicators. Completing this inventory and monitoring change over time will aid in towns' efforts to support municipal planning and prioritize policies and funding for projects that preserve a resilient working waterfront. The inventory can be developed as a stand-alone document or can be incorporated into a harbor management plan or comprehensive plan.

In addition, pairing a municipal inventory with a vulnerability assessment for infrastructure, and local knowledge about climate-related shifts in fisheries, will provide a holistic plan for towns to have climate-ready working waterfront infrastructure. This data and information will help municipalities support the marine economies of today and the future.

The Working Waterfront Inventory Template is in its final design stages, and will be available in late February. To learn more, visit: or sign up to receive updates at

The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association also recently published “Scuttlebutt: A Guide to Living and Working in aWaterfront Community”. The guide is a collaborative effort among Harpswell organizations aimed at educating the current community and newcomers about living and working near the ocean. “Scuttlebutt” includes information about the different types of fisheries in Harpswell, ways that homeowners can minimize their impacts on the town’s coastal environment, tips for cooking local seafood, and information about preserving access for future generations to work on the waterfront along with many other resources. 

The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association is an industry-driven non-profit working to restore the fisheries in the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine’s fishing communities for future generations.

Tidal Bay Consulting offers a rooted and effective approach to building stronger communities and a resilient environment. 

Co-authored by:

Jessica Gibbon Joyce

Jessica Gribbon Joyce is Principal of Tidal Bay Consulting, a woman-owned small business that supports initiatives centered around fisheries policy, coastal resource management, and climate resilience. Tidal Bay Consulting specializes in the intersection of policy and community engagement, bringing diverse perspectives to complicated policy arenas. In addition to her business, Jessica serves as the public member of the Maine Department of Marine Resources' Shellfish Advisory Council and is the founder and co-facilitator of the Casco Bay Regional Shellfish Working Group. Prior to starting her business in 2016, Jessica worked at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, ME; NOAA Fisheries in Silver Spring, MD; and AECOM in Alexandria, VA. She has a B.A. and M.A. in Marine Affairs and Policy from the University of Miami and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Co-authored by:

Monique Coombs

Monique Coombs is the Director of Community Programs for the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, an industry-driven nonprofit working to restore the fisheries in the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine’s fishing communities for future generations. Monique runs MCFA’s programs on Fishermen Wellness and the Working Waterfront, and writes regularly for Commercial Fisheries News. She is currently serving on Harpswell's Comprehensive Plan Task Force and is part of a fishing family.