$250,000 to Jumpstart Rebuilding of Maine’s Working Waterfront

Island Institute Delivers Grants to 52 Businesses in Island and Coastal Communities

Island Institute
Posted 2024-04-01


Richard Knox, Senior Marketing Officer, Island Institute
207-242-5578; rknox@islandinstitute.org


Rockland, ME – Island Institute, a community development nonprofit serving Maine’s island and coastal communities, announced today that it has completed Business Resilience Storm Response Grants, totaling $250,000, delivered to 52 waterfront businesses in the wake of the back-to-back January storms. The grants were awarded to fishing cooperatives, lobster wharves, and processing centers that are relied upon by the fishermen, distributors and retailers that are the backbone of Maine’s marine economy. These grants are supporting 540 working waterfront jobs and helping rebuild infrastructure relied on by 1,195 commercial vessels.

“Building back along Maine’s coast will require a sustained programmatic and policy effort. These grants are just one part of our response and helped jumpstart recovery and ignite a sense of hope,” said Island Institute President Kimberly A. Hamilton, PhD. “When you’ve just watched an extraordinary storm wash away your business and decades of hard work, it’s good to know that your community has your back.”

Within a week of the first storm, Island Institute had launched its storm response grant program, received applications, and began sending funds to critical working waterfront businesses up and down Maine’s coast. On Mount Desert Island, Thurston’s Lobster Pound was particularly hard hit, suffering damage to its wharf. General Manager, Derek LaPointe commented on receiving the grant, “Island Institute was the first organization that was right there within days after the storm offering a grant to help rebuild. And we immediately put that towards lumber cost because we needed to get stuff built so we can serve the 22 lobstermen we support.

From bait to plate, the seafood sector contributes more than $3.2 billion in total economic output annually to Maine, supports more than 33,300 jobs statewide and relies almost entirely

on the 20 remaining miles of working waterfront infrastructure in our state. Without safe and reliable wharves, docks, and access ramps, Maine’s fishing communities are at risk of grinding to a halt.

To address the importance of working waterfront infrastructure for our coastal economy, Island Institute aimed these grants along with programmatic and policy efforts toward rebuilding with future resiliency in mind. Each applicant was asked if they had identified ways to rebuild to be more resilient and was offered help from Island Institute staff on how to plan for future storms. Island Institute targeted these grants toward communities that are major contributors to the marine economy, were highly impacted by the storms, and are at particularly high risk of future damage due to climate change.

The institute also hosted two public webinars, the first—held three days after the second storm—provided attendees with timely information from leaders of the Maine Department of Marinee Resources, Maine Emergency Management Association, and Department of Economic and Community Development about reporting storm damages and applying for assistance. The second focused on storm science, explaining how climate trends are likely to impact our coast in the coming decades.

Island Institute’s storm response efforts are part of its ongoing work in helping Maine’s island and coastal communities navigate changes in our climate and economy, with recent efforts that include:

  •  Supporting Gouldsboro, Swan’s Island, Frenchboro, Matinicus, and Isle au Haut in applying for $50,000 grants through the state’s Community Resilience Partnership for infrastructure resilience projects.
  • Leading the development of a working waterfront strategy for the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council that focused on both the needs of privately owned working waterfronts and the importance of resilience upgrades to both public and private working waterfronts.
  • Supporting LD 2225, legislation proposed by Governor Mills that, if approved by the State Legislature, will result in the investment of $50 million to help rebuild storm damaged infrastructure, including working waterfronts. The bill is before the Legislature as an emergency measure, with the intention for the funds to support restoration of infrastructure that must be ready for the peak season in Maine’s fishery.





The Island Institute is a 40-year-old nonprofit organization, based in Rockland, Maine, that works to sustain Maine’s island and coastal communities and is committed to a just, resilient, and vibrant future for the coast of Maine. For more information, visit http://www.islandinstitute.org.