Working Waterfronts Initiative

Marylandís Working Waterfronts

Marylandís 16 coastal counties and Baltimore City contain 70% of Marylandís population and over 3,000 linear miles of shoreline. As a result, Maryland is particularly reliant on healthy coastal waters and resources and a wide range of marine uses Ė marine transportation, tourism and recreation, fishing and shellfish industries, marine construction, ship and boat-building Ė to drive the Stateís economy. However, these uses sometimes conflict with each other, and economic, ecological, demographic, and development pressures threaten the long-term viability of water dependent jobs and the heritage of working waterfront communities.

Maryland Working Waterfront Commission

In 2007, under Senate Bill 414, the Maryland General Assembly established the Maryland Working Waterfront Commission comprised of State agency representatives, elected officials, resource-based industry development entities and local watermen. The Commission was tasked to evaluate and make recommendations about how the State could preserve the commercial fishing industryís access to public trust waters. The 2008 Maryland Working Waterfront Commission report noted that like most working waterfronts around the United States, Maryland is seeing a decline in working waterfronts likely due to increased coastal population growth, declining profitability of the commercial fishing industry, rising real estate values and other economic drivers, and limited information exchange among stakeholders .

Working Waterfront Initiative

DNRís Chesapeake and Coastal Service (CCS) recognizes that the history, culture, and community identity of our coastal communities is inextricably linked to the existence of the working waterfront. In order to assist with the preservation of existing and historic working waterfronts in Maryland, CCS is building from the work of the Commission and engaging partners to conduct an inventory of working waterfronts throughout the state. Future work will be undertaken to analyze the socio-economic impacts of working waterfronts and to develop financing and policy strategies for preservation. A working waterfront program is under development and may include local planning/zoning assistance, tax-incentives, purchased development rights/easements, and coordination with other state and local economic development programs.

Support for Working Waterfronts

  • Property Tax Credits - The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation1 in 2008 allowing local jurisdictions to provide a special use tax assessment for waterfront property to those commercial marinas that offer at least 20% of their slips to commercial waterman.

  • County Comprehensive Planning – Planning Commissions of code home rule and commissioner counties that are located on the tidal waters of the State must include designation of areas on the tidal water for loading, unloading, and processing finfish and shellfish as well as docking and mooring for commercial fishing boats and vessels. The designated areas are meant to facilitate commercial harvesting and assure reasonable access to the waterways of the State by commercial watermen.2

  • Local Zoning - Many local jurisdictions such as Annapolis and Ocean City have instituted special zoning for maritime and waterfront areas.

1 Md. TAX-PROPERTY Code Ann. § 9-249
2 Md. Ann. Code art. 66B, § 3-05(a)(7)

Maryland Working Waterfront Commission Final Report (December 2008)

Cover of Maryland Working Waterfront Commission Final Report


Kelly Collins

Chesapeake & Coastal Service

Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Tawes State Office Building E-2

580 Taylor Avenue

Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Phone 410-260-8912

Fax 410-260-8739