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Waterfront conversation series to return with panels on access, etiquette

Susan Olcott
May 2, 2022

By Susan Olcott, originally published in the Harpswell Anchor

As spring is upon us and people are getting back onto the water, there are many things to learn from people who utilize Harpswell’s waterfront in a variety of ways. Last fall, five organizations came together to present two panel discussions about topics related to the working waterfront.

The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, Holbrook Community Foundation, Harpswell Anchor, and Cundy’s Harbor Library initiated “Living and Working in a Waterfront Community: A Conversation Series.” The idea behind the events was to facilitate conversations among people in the community who utilize and value the coast in different ways.

The first panel in the fall was “Fishing Through the Seasons,” which focused on the variety of fisheries in Harpswell, as well as the methods and timing for harvest. The second fall panel, “Conversations From the Fishing Community,” was an informal storytelling roundtable where different generations of Harpswell fishing families shared what has changed over the years and what they have passed down. The presentations were accompanied by articles in the Anchor. Recordings of the panels are available on HHLT’s YouTube channel.

Photo by Monique Coombs, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association

Based on the level of interest, as demonstrated by the number of attendees and questions during the events, the partnering organizations decided to present two more workshops this spring. These events are geared toward addressing topics that are relevant to coastal residents as many prepare to get back on the water. The first of these panels, on May 11 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Orr’s Island Schoolhouse, will focus on access for fishing businesses.

Access is a broad term and can mean many things to different people. This panel will focus on access for fishing businesses and where the challenges and opportunities lie in a coastal community like Harpswell. A small group of panelists, including a local fisherman, a clam harvester, Harpswell’s harbor master and Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association staff, will cover an array of access-related topics. These include access to the intertidal zone to harvest shellfish, access to moorings to keep a working boat, and space to store and maintain gear, among others. Panelists will also address other types of access, like access to seafood markets and fishing permits.

The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association will follow the discussion about access to seafood markets by sharing samples of its Maine Coast Monkfish Stew, a locally produced stew made with monkfish caught by Maine fishermen. This stew not only provides a market for a species that is sometimes difficult to market domestically, but also provides proceeds for the association’s Fishermen Feeding Mainers program. This program donates fresh seafood to area food banks, schools and community groups, and has provided more than 400,000 meals to more than 60 groups throughout the state. The stew is available locally at Iris Eats in Harpswell.

The second spring panel in this series will focus on etiquette on the waterfront, and will be held on June 15 from 6-8 p.m. at the Bailey Island Community Hall. Etiquette may not be a term typically associated with the working waterfront, but in this case, it refers to the way people can both work on and enjoy the waterfront in a respectful and safe way.

Panelists for this event will include representatives of the Maine Island Trails Association, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association and local businesses. This event will have a seafood tasting, with Maine Coast Monkfish Stew and oysters from the New Meadows River Shellfish Co-op, prior to the presentation. The tasting will be held outside, weather permitting, as a celebration by the partnering organizations and attendees of the start of summer and the conclusion of this season’s series.

The events will be available in person, live via Zoom, and as recordings. They are free and open to all. Advance registration is required. Click here to view a recording of the event on May 11. Contact Julia McLeod at director@hhltmaine.org or 207-721-1121 with any questions.

May 2022