WASHINGTON, D.C.—Yesterday, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s (D-Maine) bill, H.R. 3596, the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act, passed through the House Natural Resources Committee on a 22-13 bipartisan vote. The bill was one of ten bills marked up in committee.
“More than 30,000 Mainers make their living from marine-related industries, which are an iconic part of our state’s character. However, working waterfronts are extremely vulnerable to development and to climate change,” said Pingree. “This legislation gives states tools to protect working parts of the coast, preserving our economies and our waters in the same go. I’m thrilled to see the Natural Resources Committee advance the bill on a bipartisan vote, and I look forward to a vote before the entire House.”
“Working waterfronts are an integral part of the soul and character of the nation's coasts. In Maine, voters approved a visionary grant program to start protecting working waterfronts because residents and industry value these places and understand their critical role in the economy and culture of the state. Congresswoman Pingree takes this proven approach to the national level, finally giving states, the federal government and stakeholders the opportunity to work together to identify the highest priority waterfront properties for industry and implement a plan of action to Keep America's Waterfronts Working.” Natalie Springuel, Maine Sea Grant.
“The working waterfront is an anchor for coastal communities throughout the country but especially here in Maine. They provide a space for commonality, work, and human connection and are the gateway to the healthy sustainable seafood Maine and other American fishermen harvest. It is imperative that we invest in this essential infrastructure to support local food systems, creates good jobs, and protects future opportunities in the blue economy.” Monique Coombs, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.
Pingree first introduced legislation to protect working waterfronts in the 111th Congress. She testified on behalf of the bill before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife on July 25.
Pingree’s bill seeks to preserve the character of coastal communities by protecting jobs, commercial activities, and public access to America’s coast. Water-dependent commercial activities are the economic and cultural heart of many coastal communities. Working waterfronts support thousands of Maine jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity, but due to development pressures, they have been reduced to just 20 miles of Maine’s coastline, which measures over 5,000 miles.
Pingree has long advocated for federal resources to help Maine communities preserve and expand shoreline access and infrastructure for water-dependent industries, such as fishing, boat building, and aquaculture.
The bill is expected to head next to the floor for a full House vote.