News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 27, 2019
Lobster Co-op to receive $216,250 for expansion
Working Waterfront Access Program aims to secure commercial fishing

Co-op receives grant

Loading bait boxes at the Stonington Lobster Co-op, which was awarded funds for expansion projects from the Working Waterfront Access Protection Program.

Photo by Monique Labbe Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

Land for Maine’s Future has selected the Stonington Lobster Co-op as one of six projects receiving a total $1,136,250 to help protect and sustain Maine’s working waterfront, according to a Department of Marine Resources press release.

The Co-op, located at 51 Indian Point Road, received a preliminary allocation of $216,250 under the Working Waterfront Access Protection Program, to improve shipping and receiving of lobsters and bait. The site currently supports 40 fishing vessels that harvest lobster and scallops.

Program funds are awarded “to support projects that sustain access to the waterfront for commercial fishing and aquaculture in exchange for development rights through a Working Waterfront Covenant,” according to the press release.

What that means, Co-op Manager Ron Trundy said, is that if the Co-op ever decides to sell the property, the Program would have first refusal rights on purchasing the property. “We still have full control of the property,” he said. “This guarantees that this piece of property will always be here for access to the fishermen.”

The Co-op plans to use the funds to expand its parking lot to accommodate 12 more spaces and install pilings, with limited dock space, that would be accessible from half tide, for loading and unloading light gear, such as lobster traps.

Before receiving the funds, the Co-op must submit an appraisal “and complete all real estate due-diligence to the satisfaction of the state,” reads the press release.

For the Co-op, that means obtaining permits from the Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps of Engineers and local planning board approval.

“We’re hoping if we can get through the permit part of it we can start the first of the year,” Trundy said. “There’s lots of hoops to jump through between now and then and that’s why we’re glad [the allocation] came through when it did, so we can start the process now. It may be spring before it’s done.”

The Working Waterfront Access Protection Program is funded by a bond passed by voters in 2005 and renewed three times since. Funds are allocated by the Land For Maine’s Future Board through the Department of Marine Resources. Also receiving project allocations are the Town of Jonesport, Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation, Interstate Lobster, Inc. in Harpswell, Spruce Head fishermen’s Co-op in South Thomaston, and Wotton’s Lobster Wharf in New Harbor.