Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

New Oral History Collection Documents Efforts to Preserve the Working Waterfront

Preserving working waterfront oral history

By Stephanie Showalter Otts, National Sea Grant Law Center

Working waterfronts are more than the physical infrastructure – the docks, piers, and equipment. Working waterfronts are also social and cultural features of their host communities; they are integral to how community members define and distinguish themselves. When working waterfronts are threatened, communities often initiate efforts to preserve access rights. Working waterfronts across the country have been preserved through purchase, designation as historic districts, and zoning techniques.

In 2014, the National Sea Grant Law Center, Maine Sea Grant, and NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management received funding through the NOAA Preserve America Initiative to capture and preserve oral histories showcasing working waterfront preservation efforts. This project was an outgrowth of the National Working Waterfront Network’s Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit, which was funded by the Economic Development Administration and released in May 2013. The Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit is an online information portal that contains a wealth of information about the historical and current use of waterfront space, the economic value of working waterfronts, and legal, policy, and financing tools that can be used to preserve, enhance, and protect these valuable areas. 

Ten working waterfront champions were invited to share the story of their community’s working waterfront initiative. These are the people behind the scenes – the land use planners, port directors, community organizers, legislators, property owners – making the programs work. The interviews strived to gather information on the “how” – how did the community preserve their working waterfront or water access? What tools and strategies did they use? What was their secret to success? 

The resulting “Preserving the Working Waterfront” oral history collection includes audio recordings of the full interviews, transcripts of the interviews and audio slideshows highlighting key elements of the oral history. The audio slideshows are available on the National Working Waterfront Network website and the audio files and transcripts are archived in the NOAA Voices of the Fisheries database.

Related Posts

Virginia Sea Grant Launches the USDA and NOAA-Supported Aquaculture Information Exchange Online Community Platform

The Aquaculture Information Exchange (AIE) online community platform website is now live and open for new user registrations. The AIE represents a joint effort between NOAA’s National Sea Grant Office, NOAA’s Fisheries Office of Aquaculture, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and Virginia Sea Grant.

Read More >
Image of Capitol Hill with a bright blue cloudless sky and blooming cherry blossom tree in the right corner
Academia to Government

Sea Grant Announces the 2024 Class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2024 class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program. The 85 early-career professionals selected will be placed in federal government offices throughout Washington, D.C., and join the over 1,600 individuals who have participated in the program since its inception in 1979.

Read More >
Image of plastic debris on Oregon’s Clatsop Beach by Tiffany Woods | Oregon Sea Grant.

Sea Grant announces funding opportunities to support community-engaged marine debris removal and prevention

Sea Grant announces $19 million in federal funding opportunities to address the prevention and removal of marine debris. These opportunities are a component of nearly $3 billion in targeted investments for NOAA in the areas of habitat restoration, coastal resilience and weather forecasting infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Read More >
Scroll to Top