Rockland harbor on Tuesday Sept. 7, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

ROCKLAND, Maine — A report from a nonprofit organization that works to sustain Maine’s coastal cities raised concerns that weak infrastructure and climate change are threatening Maine’s waterfront economic development.

The report from the Island Institute said factors such as a lack of financial support, dock maintenance, affordable housing and increasing risks from climate change have potentially made Maine’s working waterfronts susceptible to an economic downturn in the future, The Portland Press Herald reported Wednesday.

Last year, sectors like the seafood industry contributed over $1 billion to the state’s economy, the newspaper reported.

While the state and programs like the Working Waterfront Access Protection Program have invested in the development of the waterfront, the report said this year’s $4 million investment from the program is not nearly enough to keep the waterfront afloat.

The effects of climate change could also increase costs for coastal maintenance and existing infrastructure and deplete the fish supply, the report said.

Commercial fishers in coastal towns are also beginning to be priced out of the housing market due to rising prices and homes selling quickly, the majority of the time to out-of-state residents.

According to the report, many clammers have to reside where they work to receive their licenses. An influx of out-of-state residents could reduce the number of workers who contribute to the local marine industries.

The report ultimately suggested that to sustain Maine’s waterfront, the state must create its own waterfront protection foundation or invest more into existing organizations and buy and protect the local real estate.