ROCKLAND — Four water-focused Maine nonprofits are announcing a social media campaign to encourage all people to take responsibility for the health and safety of Maine waters – from inland lakes and rivers, to marine waters on the coast. Their goal is to engage individuals, businesses, and other organizations who use the water to promote shared values on social media with the hashtag, #LoveMaineWaters.
After witnessing a steep rise in outdoor recreation and new boaters in Maine since the beginning of the pandemic, director of the Maine Marine Trades Association, Stacey Keefer, convened other nonprofits to promote water health and safety.
“We may not all literally be in the same boat, but we are all undoubtedly connected by the same water,” said Keefer, in a news release. “Everyone in Maine depends on the quality of our waters, from beach going tourists and lake paddlers, to the fishermen of the working waterfront. Our grassroots approach allows for anyone to join in and promote the idea that we all should #LoveMaineWaters.”
The group’s website (lovemainewaters.org) hosts a social media toolkit with logos and succinct messages that water users can download and personalize to post to their own accounts. In addition to Keefer at Maine Marine Trades Association, the campaign and social media toolkit were designed by Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Friends of Casco Bay, and Maine Island Trail Association. Together, the organizations represent a range of interests on Maine waters, spanning recreational and commercial users on both marine and freshwater.
Monique Coombs, director of Community Programs at Maine Coast Fishermen Association is excited to be working with an effective and 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,” said Coombs. “This effort will provide great opportunities for us to work with partners and the public to communicate about commercial fishing.”
Like Coombs, Maine Island Trail Association was drawn to the project to promote fundamental lessons about water quality and ecosystem health.
“MITA was founded on the belief that boaters should take care of the coastal islands and waters that they have the privilege to enjoy.” said Brian Marcaurelle, program director at Maine Island Trail Association. “#LoveMaineWaters embodies this spirit of stewardship by demonstrating how we can boat responsibly and minimize our environmental impact.”
All of the groups share particular concerns over the rise in new recreational boats in Maine over the past two summers. There are crucial lessons new boat owners can learn to be effective stewards of the water, like how to dispose of sewage in a holding tank.
"Getting a pumpout is one of the best things boaters can do," says 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 pump out stations up and down the coast, there is no reason to not pump out your boat."
Though they are not affiliated, the founders of #LoveMaineWaters would also like to encourage everyone to support the mission of the Maine Trails Coalition and their upcoming Love Maine Trails Month. Many trails are used to access Maine waters, thus the stewardship of both is often intertwined.
Water users who want more information about the values and practices promoted by #LoveMaineWaters, and to access the social media toolkit, logos, and print posters, can visit lovemainewaters.org.