Working with Boaters and Marine Trades for Cleaner Washington Water

Working Waterfronts Symposium a Success

The Working Waterfront Symposium took place last week in Tacoma. We previewed that conference here and now that it’s in the books, I wanted to share some of the big themes that came up time and time again – and as far as boating goes, it was a relief to hear what I heard.

So what were those themes? The jam-packed three days revolved around this notion that a working waterfront is an essential hub of any vibrant community that butts up to the water. And as a working waterfront, certain mainstays started to bubble up again and again during the symposium. Most notably, the terms  “mixing land use”, “waterfronts integrating with the rest of the city”, “the waterfront should not be separate but a part of a city”, “complementary”, “compatibility”, “incorporate maritime heritage”, “behind every boat there’s a working waterfront,” “access, access, access”. You probably are getting the idea at this point.

A big take-away for me was the importance of inclusivity when thinking about working waterfronts. It just has to be that way. A strong waterfront isn’t solely about one industry or set of recreators over another. It’s not heavy machinery and fork-lifts or all marinas and boatyards (although that does sound good to me). It’ about a balance that occurs when varying interests can come together on the water to recreate, provide employment, source food, all together in concert.. (I liked the connecting point from one of the speakers that the waterfront is not the edge of communities, but the center of communities. Given the abundance of activities on the water, the water’s edge is just the beginning of more opportunity. A true hub.)

This was the third Working Waterfront Symposium. Washington and Oregon Sea Grant did a yeoman’s job organizing the speakers and lining up the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association to sponsor the shellfish reception in the evening. That connection between food, table and working waterfronts struck a chord with all in attendance. As was mentioned in one of the seminars, “From boat to throat, we are all connected.” 


Photo courtesy of The Log of Spartina