Maritime Foundation shares vision, seeks to improve facility for fishermen
Carter’s Wharf, a lobster buying station on the east side of Boothbay Harbor, was recently donated to the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation (BRMF), a nonprofit organization also based in Boothbay Harbor. In February, Luke’s Lobster entered into a lease agreement with the Foundation to buy lobsters and operate the wharf. Also in February, The Foundation hired an engineering firm to assess the condition of the property, the pier, and the building with an eye towards improving infrastructure for the fishermen who operate from the pier. The assessment was completed in April and the final report concludes that “Given the apparent incompatibility between the existing structural capacity of the Sea Pier and building and the Catholic Church Pier, as compared to the design loads for the intended uses, we recommend complete replacement of both piers and the Sea Pier building.”
The Sea Pier, one of four buying stations on the east side of the harbor, is a vital component of the working waterfront in the region. Over 30 licensed lobstermen rely on it as a place to fuel their boats and sell their catch. Rebuilding this pier and maintaining it as a buying station is critical for our local economy and for the preservation of a way of life that is unique to the coast of Maine. The lobstering industry faces unprecedented challenges including the reduction of working waterfront, a drastically reduced herring quota and whale entanglement regulations. Lobstering is critical to Maine, contributing $1 billion to the overall economy and providing over 80% of all lobster caught in the U.S.
Rebuilding the Carter’s Wharf facility will include replacing the bulkhead, regrading and raising the parking lot, and replacing both piers as well as all of the floats and ramps. It will take considerable financial resources, approximately $3.5 million and the work will take between 12 and 15 months to complete. There are a number of additional challenges facing the project: the facility spans two properties, one owned by the Catholic Church and leased by the Foundation, and one owned by the Foundation. In addition, the federal Floodplain Management Regulations require the wharf to be raised beyond its current height. The Foundation also plans to restore the small building that sits on the Catholic Church property. This building served as the home to one of the first fishing co-ops in Maine and is an important historic site.
The Foundation will continue to work towards finalizing a plan that best meets the needs of our local fishing community, now and into the future.
“The vision the Foundation has for the pier is strong,” said Luke Holden, founder and CEO of Luke’s Lobster. “Undertaking this project and shoring up the working waterfront for fishermen is critical to Maine’s coastal economies and to businesses like ours.” Funds for engineering and architectural services and for renovations are currently being sought from local, state, and federal grant programs.
The Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation was recognized by the state of Maine as a nonprofit organization on Sept. 11, 2018. Its board is comprised of six year-round residents who volunteer their time and resources. Anyone interested in helping with funding for this project can contact them at BRMaritimeFoundation@gmail.com
More information is available at their website, BoothbayRegionMaritimeFoundation.org