"A group of wharf owners asked for the change, saying they could no longer afford to care for the aging structures with the rents they get from fishermen and their like. The owners point to bleak statistics: landings at Portland's seafood auction, for example, dropped to 6.3 million pounds last year from 17 million in 2006.
'We're only trying to find ways to keep these properties generating revenue,' said Charlie Poole, whose family has owned Union Wharf since the 1800s. 'We can't afford to have a lot of space sitting idle as we wait for fishing to come back.'"
The proposal to bring new kinds of development to the wharf area is expected to go before the city council next month, but some worry that handing the area over to commercial developers will destroy the waterfront's connection to the fishing industry.