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Common Law & Statutes
For information about land ownership and More...


Primary Audience Identification for Sources
P = Private Waterfront Landowners
GP = Government and Public Entities
WU = Waterfront Users


Partners in Developing the Web Resource

Maine Sea Grant Maine Sea Grant’s mission is to play a leadership role in marine science and education and to promote their use in the sustainable development, management, and stewardship of marine and coastal resources.

Island Institute Island Institute is a membership-based community development organization focusing on the Gulf of Maine, particularly the fifteen year-round island communities off the Maine coast. Island Institute has led the way in mapping all remaining working access on the coast of Maine.

Maine Coastal Program The Maine Coastal Program works to sustain Maine's coastal resources and maritime economy. The Program is administered by the Maine State Planning Office.

National Sea Grant Law Center The National Sea Grant Law Center conducts research on marine laws and policies, coordinates ocean and coastal law researchers, and disseminates information to coastal and ocean policy-makers.

University of Maine School of Law’s Center for Law and Innovation The Center for Law and Innovation of the University of Maine School of Law supports Maine's investments in science and technology by studying and teaching about the role of intellectual property law in economic development.

Maine Coastal Access Resource Organizations

Coastal Enterprises Inc. Coastal Enterprises, Inc, is a private, non-profit community development corporation founded to create social and economic opportunities in Maine.

Maine Working Waterfront Coalition The Working Waterfront Coalition is a broad-based statewide collaboration of more than 140 industry associations, non-profits, state agencies and individuals dedicated to supporting and enhancing Maine’s working waterfront through policy, planning, investment and education.

Maine Municipal Association The Maine Municipal Association (MMA) is a voluntary membership organization offering an array of professional services to municipalities and other local governmental entities in Maine.

Maine Harbor Master’s Association Maine Harbor Master’s Association is an organization of 200+ harbormasters that maintain unobstructed navigation in Maine’s harbors and coastline. The Association works with partners to provide harbormasters with education and ways to interact on waterfront issues and ideas.

Coastal Conservation Association of Maine Dedicated to the protection and restoration of marine life for the enjoyment of all. The organization can serve as a resource for fishing access issues.

Save our Shores Maine A grass-roots, volunteer organization seeking to educate the public to maintain and preserve Maine's coastal heritage. More...

Surfrider Foundation, Northern New England Chapter A non-profit, grassroots environmental organization dedicated to protecting and preserving our world's oceans, waves and beaches.

Maine Island Trail Association The Maine Island Trail Association’s goal is to establish a model of thoughtful use and volunteer stewardship for the Maine islands that will assure their conservation in a natural state while providing an exceptional recreational asset that is maintained and cared for by the people who use it.


Maine Coast Heritage Trust Conserves and stewards Maine’s coastal lands and islands for their renowned scenic beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, ecological diversity and working landscapes. MCHT also coordinates the Maine Land Trust Network.

Land Trust Alliance The Land Trust Alliance unites and champions organizations in local communities working to save natural areas.

Trust for Public Lands A land conservation and open space resource for landowners, government agencies and community groups interested in protecting land for human enjoyment.

Bibliography by Publication Date

Working Waterfront Preservation: Opportunities Posed by Tax Policy
The need for detailed information on the barriers and opportunities that tax policies pose for working waterfront access preservation was identified through outreach activities in Maine. In response, Maine Sea Grant, Maine Coastal Program, The Center for Law and Innovation at University of Maine School of Law, Island Institute, The Maine Department of Revenue Services and the Portland, Maine law firm of Bernstein Shur partnered and were granted funding by the National Sea Grant Law Center in 2009. These extensive research on tax-based tools resulted in two legal memos, an executive summary, and a strategy table.

Working Waterfront Protection Through Tax Policy: a transferability analysis of tax-focused portions of the "Accessing the Maine Coast" website (PDF 472KB) and Appendix (PDF 932K)
By Agnieszka A PinetteUniversity of Maine School of Law, June 2012


Working Waterfront Preservation: Opportunities Posed by Tax Policy – Executive Summary (PDF 36 KB)
By Kristen Grant, Amanda LaBelle, and Catherine Schmitt, Maine Sea Grant, December 2010

Working Waterfront Tax Strategies (PDF 216 KB)
By Steven R. Gerlach, Esq., Bernstein Shur, Counselors at Law, September, 2010.

Tax-based Opportunities and Challenges for Working Waterfront Protection (PDF 364 KB)
By Michael Dixon, University of Maine School of Law, Marine Law Institute, July 2010.

Legal Tools to Enhance Public Coastal Access While Protecting Private Property Rights. (PDF 225.6 KB)
By David Kallin and Rita Heimes, University of Maine School of Law Marine Law Institute, March 2008. This booklet represents a comprehensive white paper report of research conducted as the foundation for the creation of this website. The report includes definitions of the kinds of access, information on conveying or acquiring property, private agreements, environmental/land use regulations, and taxation as a tool for waterfront access.

Coastal Scenic Inventories Resources Handbook (PDF).
Maine Coastal Program. 2008. This is a “how to” guide for using the State Planning Office’s Scenic Inventory methodology to identify, evaluate, and document scenic resources, such as scenic access. This new 2008 publication will soon be available on the Maine Coastal Program website as a PDF.

Tools to Preserve Maine’s Waterfront Access.
Produced by same partners as this website project (see list above). 2007. This Waterfront Access Toolkit brochure contains innovative solutions and strategies that landowners, municipalities, water-dependent businesses, community members and others can use to secure, enhance, and expand coastal access for recreational and “working” purposes. NOTE: this brochure contains a brief introduction to the material contained in this website. Available by contacting the main office of the Island Institute or Maine Sea Grant.

Access to the Waterfront: Issues and Solutions across the Nation (PDF).
Springuel, Natalie and Schmitt, Catherine. 2007. Orono, ME: Maine Sea Grant College Program. This report characterizes the scope of coastal access issues nationwide and the effects on coastal communities, as well as inventories, solutions, and tools being implemented by Sea Grant and other programs.

Mapping Maine’s Working Waterfront: A Statewide Inventory and The Last 20 Miles.
Island Institute. 2007. Rockland, ME These research findings presented in these Island Institute reports calculate the extent of the Maine coastline in 2007 that was accessible for working waterfront activities, how these access points are owned, and the potential threats to their loss. More...

Schwartz, Maurice, L. 2005. The Encyclopedia of Coastal Science, by Springer, the Netherlands

Public Shoreline Access in Maine: A Citizen’s Guide to Ocean and Coastal Law (PDF).
Duff, J. 2004. Orono, Maine Sea Grant and the Marine Law Institute. This guide covers the Public Trust Doctrine and “Fishing, Fowling and Navigation,” Moody Beach and other relevant cases, Maine’s trespass law and ways to secure public access rights.

Conservation Options, a Guide for Maine Landowners (PDF).
Maine Coast Heritage Trust. 2003. This handbook offers landowners information on how to protect land in ways that can make good financial sense. Many conservation methods offer tax advantages, helping to reduce estate, income and property taxes.

Societal Responses, Preserving Waterfronts for Water Dependent Uses (PDF 3.2 MB)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 1998 (on-line). Walker, Kenneth and Arnn, Matt. NOAA's State of the Coast Report. Silver Spring, MD. A retired NOAA web site discussing the national scope of waterfront access issues, including case studies from around the US.

Harbor Management Handbook.
Maine Harbormaster’s Association. 1997. This is a legal guide for harbor masters and coastal officials. Now available on their website.
NOAA/OCRM. 1997. Coastal and Water Dependent Uses: Coastal Management Programs Meeting the Needs of Our Nation. OCRM Technical Document 97-1.

The Right Tack, Charting Your Harbor’s Future (PDF).
Maine Coastal Program, 1995. This handbook provides resources, describes options, lists principles, and outlines what others have done to guide municipalities in crafting appropriate harbor plans. Available in hard copy by contacting the main office of the Maine Coastal Program.

Planning and Implementing Public Shoreline Access (PDF).
Maine Coastal Program. 1990. This guide is intended to assist local officials such as planning board members and selectmen in their efforts to preserve their citizen’s access to the shore.

The Mooring Plan Handbook.
Maine Coastal Program, 1989. This handbook is intended to provide tools to use harbor space efficiently, to forecast harbor usage, and to establish linkages between use of water and adjacent lands. Available in hard copy by contacting Maine Coastal Program.

Waterfront Construction Handbook (PDF).
Maine Coastal Program. This handbook offers guidelines for the design and construction of waterfront facilities. Available in hard copy by contacting Maine Coastal Program.

Working Together to Protect Coastal Maine
Priority Coastal Resources. Hard copy of poster size map available from Maine Coastal Program. More...

Access to Coastal and Inland Waters, the Public Use of Private Lands (PDF 1.4 MB).
University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Sea Grant, and Land and Water Resources Council, and Maine Municipal Association. 1988. This publication covers Maine law regarding landowner and municipal rights and responsibilities regarding traditional access, the Moody Beach Case, Great Ponds, and more.

Maine Landowner Liability Explained.
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. A comprehensive review of Maine landowner liability law as it applies to individuals, businesses, non-governmental organizations and other non-governmental entities that own, manage, lease, occupy or hold easements on land. Information available on Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website.

Citizens’ Guides to Coastal and Ocean Law.
Series produced by Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine School of Law (Marine Law Institute). Though this series is dated from the early 1990’s, the information is still relevant.

Coastal Access Studies

  • North Atlantic Water Dependent Use Study: Managing the Shoreline for Water Dependent Uses: A Handbook of Legal Tools. Volumes 1 and 2. Portland, ME: University of Southern Maine.
    Marine Law Institute. 1988. This study is a comprehensive resource for those who seek to develop sounds, implementable policies to protect our waterfronts for water dependent uses and to preserve access for those activities that rely upon our nation’s coasts. Executive summary and table of contents available by contacting Center for Law and Innovation at Maine School of Law.
    P, GP, WU

  • Paths and Piers (PDF 476 KB)
    Paths and Piers: A study of Commercial Fishing Access in Downeast Maine Communities, A report by Sunrise County Economic Council for The Maine Coastal Program, January 2003. Paths and Piers Spreadsheets (PDF 106 KB)
    GP, WU

  • Preserving Commercial Fishing Access (PDF 1.39 MB)
    Preserving Commercial Fishing Access: A Study of Working Waterfronts in 20 Maine Communities, A report by Coastal Enterprises, Inc submitted to the Maine State Planning Office
    P, GP, WU

  • Tracking Commercial Fishing Access (2004) (PDF 4.17 MB)
    Tracking Commercial Fishing Access: A Survey of Harbormasters in 25 Maine Coastal Communities,
    A report by Coastal Enterprises, Inc submitted to the Maine State Planning Office Coastal Program, September 2004.
    GP, WU

Resources from Outside Maine

The following five states have created coastal access tools websites based on this model: