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Federal Funds Help Save Fishemens' Access to Port Clyde Harbor

Editor's note: A $3.9 million federal grant to St. George will help repair and expand the Port Clyde landing pier. The money comes from the American Rescue Plan through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. The grant will be matched with $962,771 in local funds and is expected to create 15 jobs and retain 151 jobs, according to grantee estimates. In 2021, the value of the commercial harvest in Port Clyde was over $11 million.

To the editor:

I grew up, the son of a fisherman, in Port Clyde, and after a 25-year career in the Marine Patrol in the western part of the state, I retired and moved back to Port Clyde and went lobster fishing. After some arm-twisting by two town managers, both of whom I went to school with back in the day, they corralled me to be a member of the town’s Harbor Committee, and eventually chairman.

The Committee has worked diligently since 2015 on acquiring a deep-water access point next to the outdated town landing. So many waterfront parcels in Port Clyde have been converted from working waterfront to recreational uses. Even the fish house, wharf and house I had grown up in sold for over $1 million a few years ago. My experiences with fishermen’s access issues in western Maine was happening right in front of us, here in Port Clyde.

In a town with 150 miles of coast, we had 138 feet of public access. Thankfully, the town’s voters backed the property acquisition and re-hab cost, $3.5 million. During our presentations to voters we were able to impart the importance of our heritage of commercial fishing activities. We were surprised to learn that many of the town’s non-fishing residents, who now call St. George their home, do so because of the fishing activities they see on a daily basis, activities of a unique quality, not seen in most places, and generations in the making.

Unfortunately, we found that costs had increased beyond that amount, and we have spent the better part of three years of frustration, Covid and all, trying to procure another source of funding. Many stakeholders and organizations, including the MLA, assisted us along the way. This grant, we hope, will put us in a position to create a first-class town landing that will improve recreational access and, more importantly, preserve our working waterfront for future generations. The issue of public access to the shore is so very important to all of us and it’s been very gratifying to live in St. George, knowing we have many residents who believe we must preserve it when we have the chance.

A long time ago Pat White and David Cousins presented a humble Marine Patrol Officer the MLA’s “Officer of the Year” award at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum. And now, as a 67-year-old lobster fisherman and card-carrying member of the MLA, it is a full circle for me. The work of the MLA, like our town landing project, is about the future, and even though the path may seem all uphill at times, keep up the good work you do. Our future depends on it.

Sincerely,

Dan Morris Port Clyde, America

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