In Maine, the intertidal zone has seen many disputes over its use, access, and property rights. Recently, in Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd., the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court, held that rockweed seaweed in the intertidal zone is owned by the upland landowner and is not part of a public easement under the public trust doctrine. The Court held harvesting rockweed is not fishing. This case will impact private and public rights and also the balance between the State's environmental and economic interests. This Comment addresses the following points: first, the characteristics of rockweed and the history of harvesting rockweed in Maine; second, the Maine Department of Marine Resources regulations for harvesting rockweed; third, the public trust doctrine, caselaw, and Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd.; fourth, potential ramifications to landowners, Maine's economy, and Maine's environment as a result of Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd., and; fifth, potential policy solutions for any detrimental economic ramifications and how their implementation can help balance Maine's environmental and economic interests while also balancing private and public rights. The analysis of policy solutions focuses on Maine's current tax policies, their state constitutional basis, applicability to rockweed, now that harvesting rockweed is not fishing, and a proposal for a new Intertidal Vegetation Growth Management Tax Incentive Policy. This Comment concludes that Maine should revise and add to its use-based tax incentive policies, amend Article IX, section 8, clause 2 of the Maine Constitution to include the harvest of intertidal vegetation as a use for the basis of property tax reduction, and implement a new Intertidal Vegetation Growth Management Tax Incentive Policy to encourage property owners to allow sustainable rockweed harvesting on their intertidal property and ensure a balance between economic interests and environmental sustainability.
Rebecca P. Totten,
Defining Fishing, The Slippery Seaweed Slope, Ross v. Acadian Seaplants Ltd.,
Ocean & Coastal L.J.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/oclj/vol24/iss2/4
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