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Home >Small Harbor Improvement Program (SHIP)

Small Harbor Improvement Program (SHIP)

Visit the Quality Community SHIP Page for current information about this program.

2010 SHIP Awards

SHIP History

In 1995 the Department of Transportation received their first block of funding for the Small Harbor Improvement Program (SHIP).  The goals of the program are to:

  • “promote public access, economic development, and a commitment to preserving infrastructure along the coast.”
  • “help municipalities make improvements to public wharves, landings and boat ramps.”
  • “protect a dwindling asset through a successful state/local partnership.”
  • “preserve natural resource based industries.”

Since 1995, these grants have dispersed over $6.4 million to 65 different coastal municipalities, totaling 140 projects. With coastal real estate pressures forcing changes away from public ownership, SHIP protects a dwindling public asset through a successful state/local partnership.  Examples of successful initiatives under this program include a pier reconstruction, float installations, a boat ramp rehabilitation, a new hoist installation or gangway replacement.

SHIP supports the approximately 18,000 licensed commercial fishermen and related industries along the Maine coast who increasingly rely on these public facilities for access to resources. Without this program, municipalities would likely forsake such important projects or be forced to carry out the project with only local resources.  Consequently, the program enjoys widespread support from coastal municipalities and statewide commercial fishing and marine interests.

“SHIP has been a spark plug for our entire waterfront improvement program,” says Bucksport Town Manager Roger Raymond. Bucksport has used SHIP funds to improve its public dock, enable construction of a marina, and build a recreational fishing pier with a kayak and canoe launch. “The waterfront now draws both residents and visitors,” Raymond says. “It’s not unusual to see 30 to 40 people there at all times of day.” In a recent community survey, 35 percent of respondents named the waterfront as the town’s strongest asset.

 Improvements along the waterfront have transformed the local business climate. “When we first applied for SHIP funds six years ago,” Raymond says, “our downtown had a vacancy rate of 40 percent. Now there are no vacancies. That’s why we strongly believe in SHIP. With the improvements that it helped fund, our waterfront has become the backbone of our entire downtown.

Past SHIP Awards


This page last updated on 4/15/14

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