Working Waterfront Protection

The Working Waterfront Access Protection Program is part of the Land for Maine’s Future Program. It provides matching funds to help fishing and aquaculture businesses, co-ops, municipalities, and other groups protect working waterfront properties for commercial fishing and aquaculture use. Applicants must first apply for the program through Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR). Successful applications are brought by DMR to the Land for Maine’s Future Board for funding consideration. Information about the Working Waterfront Access Protection Program on the Land for Maine’s Future website may be found here.

This two-page program summary (pdf, 581 KB) explains the purpose and application process. People who wish to learn more are encouraged to read the WWAPP workbook (found on the Land for Maine’s Future website) and the supplementary information document (pdf, 334 KB).


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Photo: Melissa Britsch



The Working Waterfront Access Protection Program (WWAPP) protects commercial working waterfront properties by restricting future development so the properties cannot be developed in ways that are incompatible with commercial fishing or aquaculture activities. This maintains accessible and affordable working waterfronts now and in the future for Maine’s marine economy. 

If an application is accepted and program requirements are completed, the property is encumbered by a Working Waterfront Covenant. The covenant gives Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) the right to preserve the property as a working waterfront, although property owners retain their legal rights of ownership over the property. The covenant also includes a Right of First Refusal that allows DMR to review future sales of the property and limits its resale value to its value as a working waterfront.

Property owners are paid for entering the WWAPP. A specialized appraisal (purchased by the applicant) determines the owner’s compensation by considering potential activities and the value of the property with and without the covenant in place. The difference between the values is the applicant’s compensation (and the value of the rights they will relinquish). After the covenant is in place, the land is forever subject to the agreements and requirements of the covenant. 


Private businesses, cooperatives, municipalities, non-profits, or other qualified parties engaged in and/or directly supporting commercial fishing and aquaculture may apply.

Waterfront wharves, piers, small boat, or walk-in access properties are eligible. They may be entirely commercial or have mixed uses. There is a strong preference for projects that protect and secure existing facilities and access sites over projects that involve speculative plans to develop new access sites and facilities. 

When can I apply?

The WWAPP periodically accepts applications. Please check with Maine DMR and the Land for Maine’s Future Program to see when the program will be open.

How it works 
  1. Potential applicants submit a Letter of Intent to Maine DMR 
  2. DMR encourages appropriate applicants to prepare full applications 
  3. Applicants follow the steps outlined in the WWAPP Workbook. DMR staff are available to assist with application preparation.  
  4. Applications are scored by an external review panel. The DMR Commissioner makes funding recommendations to the LMF Board, who allocate funding.  
  5. If applications are funded, the applicant begins the due diligence phase and completes the following steps, with assistance from LMF staff: 
    1. Full working waterfront appraisal (to determine covenant value) 
    2. Phase I Environmental Site Assessment  
    3. Property boundary survey 
    4. Deed evaluation and other legal work 
    5. Covenant drafting 
  6. When all due diligence steps are completed and the covenant is finalized, the sale and extinguishment of the development rights occurs when the covenant is recorded at the applicable registry of deeds and the property owner is paid for the sale.  



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Photo: Melissa Britsch

Page last updated on March 1, 2023

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