The Maine Marine Trades Association is teaming up with three nonprofits for a social media campaign encouraging all people to take responsibility for the health and safety of Maine’s waterways.
Recognizing the rise in outdoor recreation and new boaters on Maine waters since the beginning of the pandemic, MMTA executive director Stacey Keefer summoned the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Friends of Casco Bay and the Maine Island Trail Association to participate in the campaign.
“We may not all literally be in the same boat, but we are all undeniably connected by the same water,” Keefer said. “Everyone in Maine depends on the quality of our waters, from beachgoing tourists and lake paddlers to the fishermen of the working waterfront.”
The four organizations represent a range of interests on Maine waters — recreational and commercial on coastal and fresh water. The goal is to engage individuals, businesses and other organizations who use the water to promote shared values on social media. “Our grassroots approach allows for anyone to join in and promote the idea we all should #LoveMaineWaters,” Keefer said.
The group’s website hosts a toolkit with logos and a variety of messaging that users can download and personalize to post to their social media channels.
Monique Coombs, director of community programs at Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, is enthusiastic about working with a diverse group of organizations. “The ocean is a shared space, and a campaign like #LoveMaineWaters can help elevate conversations around safety and the health of the ecosystem,” Coombs said. “This effort will provide great opportunities for us to work with partners and the public to communicate about commercial fishing.”
Like Coombs, the Maine Island Trail Association was drawn to the project to promote fundamental lessons about water quality and ecosystem health. “Our organization was founded on the belief that boaters should take care of the coastal islands and waters that they have the privilege to enjoy,” said MITA program director Brian Marcaurelle. “The #LoveMaineWaters campaign embodies this spirit of stewardship by demonstrating how we can boat responsibly and minimize our environmental impact.”
All of the groups share concerns about the rise in recreational boats in Maine during the past two summers. There are crucial lessons new-boat owners can learn to be effective stewards of the water — for example, disposing of sewage in a holding tank.
“Getting a pumpout is one of the best things boaters can do,” said Ivy Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper at Friends of Casco Bay. “It keeps the coast free from bacteria and sewage that foul Maine's waters and make them unsafe for recreation, fishing and wildlife. With so many pumpout stations up and down the coast, there is no reason to not pumpout your boat.”
Though they are not affiliated, the founders of #LoveMaineWaters are also encouraging everyone to support the mission of the Maine Trails Coalition and its upcoming Love Maine Trails Month, slated for June 25 through July 31. Many trails are used to access Maine waters, thus the stewardship of both is often intertwined.
“Overall, this is a grassroots project that can take the messages of safety and responsible boating to a higher level in our state,” Keefer said.