What Will Waterfronts Tell us?

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Caption: A small boat harbor in Valdez, Alaska. Image Credit: NOAA.

Caption: A small boat harbor in Valdez, Alaska. Image Credit: NOAA.

How do you preserve working waterfronts in communities? Kenneth Walker, of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management at the National Ocean Service, hope to share the answer soon. As project lead, Walker created the idea for ‰ÛÏVoices from the Working Waterfront: Oral Histories around the Nation‰Û to preserve vital oral histories of waterfront communities.

For communities in the U.S., waterfronts are essential to fishing, shipping, and tourism. Increasing uses, competition, and shifting development have threatened the sustainability of these natural resources. As working waterfronts form a large part of their local communities and the maritime industry, two of NOAA’s four long-term goals include ‰ÛÏResilient Coastal Communities‰Û and ‰ÛÏHealthy Oceans.‰Û With a concerted effort on knowledge sharing, Walker says working waterfronts can survive and thrive.

The project will use the Sustainable Working Waterfront Toolkit, first developed in 2010 with funding from the Economic Development Administration. Created by partners including National Sea Grant Law Center and Maine Sea Grant, the Toolkit enables researchers to identify a variety of preservation tools for American communities and highlight ‰ÛÏtransferability, best practices, tools, issues, and challenges.‰Û Through the Working Waterfront Case Studies website, case studies are fully mapped by location, topic, and tool to increase the value of ‰ÛÏlessons learned.‰Û

Individuals from anglers or waterfront business owners to land use planners and community organizers will be invited to provide oral histories on their region. The National Sea Grant Law Center will provide administrative support, and NOAA’s Preserve America Initiative will provide grant funding.

As with the Sustainable Working Waterfront Toolkit, the main goal of the project is to demonstrate the successful implementation of historic preservation, land use planning, and financing mechanisms to save working waterfronts. By sharing stories of successes, interviewees can pass on their firsthand knowledge to peers and future communities. Communities could then use this knowledge to more strategically and cost-effectively implement solutions to preserve their working waterfronts.

Recordings of these oral histories will be available to the public in ‰ÛÏVoices from the Fisheries,‰Û an online database maintained by NOAA Fisheries. For more information, visit the National Working Waterfront Network Community Center which targets ‰ÛÏindividuals involved with working waterfront and waterway issues around the country‰Û and those interested in waterfront issues.