2019 Beaches Conference Concurrent 3 Long Description – Access, Ownership, and Seaweed

New Developments in the Law Affecting the Seashore: Access, Ownership, and Seaweed

The age-old question of who can get to the beach will be examined through a discussion of the legal principles governing public access vs. private property rights and responsibilities with respect to beaches. Public prescriptive easements, the public trust doctrine and other legal theories on beach ownership and beach use rights, highlighting the well-known pending Goose Rocks Beach case (Almeder v. Town of Kennebunkport) will be discussed.

Alternatives to beach-rights litigation for securing lasting beach access rights through partnerships between municipalities, private landowners and other stakeholders will be discussed, drawing upon our experience representing Kennebunkport and Harpswell – who successfully negotiated beach use/access agreements with private property owners.

Lastly, the presenters will discuss the recent ruling by the Maine Supreme Court involving who has the right to harvest seaweed from the shore (Ross v. Acadian Seaplants). Another important ruling by Maine’s highest court that interprets the public right to use the intertidal zone for “fishing, fowling and navigation.”

Paul Dest
Amy Tchao
David Kallin