Rockland ME (Maine) will limit the number of large cruise ships that can call at Rockland Harbor annually under an updated plan aiming to promote tourism while preserving the environment and peace of residents.
The harbor management plan prioritizes infrastructure improvements and greater public access to its harbor, which is a cornerstone of the fishing and tourism economies of Rockland.
The previous plan was created 25 years ago when the port city was trying to attract more cruisers. But priorities for Rockland have largely evolved since then.
Its status as a tourist destination boomed in the past decades, and big-sized cruise liners have become much more common in the harbor. In 2020, a total of 6 large passenger ships were scheduled to call at Rockland Harbor, according to the new plan. Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the USA's Maine state has not seen any traffic from cruise vessels carrying passengers in 2020.
A committee was formed in March 2018 in order to update the harbor management plan of Rockland following a debate over its future as a destination for cruise ships. The same year, the city council limited to 6 the number of cruise ships with 500+ passengers that can call at Rockland Harbor per year. The calls were confined to the months of September and October.
The city's new plan is aligned with the restrictions but says the limit should be annually reviewed. It doesn't place limitations on ships with fewer than 500 cruise passengers.
Aside from cruise traffic, the plan identifies public access for commercial and recreational use as a top priority. Public access is concentrated in the harbor's southern end, around the public landing and Harbor Park. The new plan advises opening access in the northern end of the harbor as well as better connecting existing access points in the southern end between the public landing and the city-owned pier.
In addition to direct access, the harbor plan indicates that views of the harbor have to be preserved from multiple vantage points throughout the port city.
The plan calls for extending Rockland Harbor Trail as well as establishing public bathrooms close to the waterfront. It recommends more funding for improvements and maintenance of infrastructure.