National Symposium Will Discuss the Future of Working Waterfronts

U.S. waterfronts account for over 6.75 million jobs, $284 billion in wages, and $645 billion in income. Yet across the United States, this valuable real estate is getting squeezed as increasing coastal populations generate conflicts over access to and uses of waterfronts. This March 25-28, Tacoma, Wash., will be the meeting site for coastal communities seeking a shared vision for the future of working waterfronts. The third National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium will bring together maritime leaders representing a broad range of coastal interests and provide a forum to discuss evolving waterfront challenges and creative solutions.

The list of speakers includes: Congressman Derek Kilmer; Washington State Sen. Kevin Ranker; Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council Chair Ron Sims (former deputy director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Development and former King County Executive); and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland.
In addition, the symposium will feature panels of experts from all over the country. Sessions will cover a variety of issues facing waterfronts today, from hazard preparedness to preserving industrial space to recreational fishing opportunities. Presentations will range from the general — “Strategies for Balancing Conflicts” — to the specific — “Integrating Public Access and Habitat into Working Waterfronts.”
Session panelists will cover the spectrum of maritime interests from large west coast port directors such as Geraldine Knatz from the Port of Los Angeles, to small community fishermen such as Guy Hoppen from Gig Harbor.

More broadly, the symposium will explore these four key topic areas:

  • Economic and social impacts of and on working waterfronts
  • Successful local, regional, state and federal strategies to address working waterfront issues
  • The future of working waterfronts, including potential impacts of changing uses and climates
  • Keeping waterfront industries commercially viable.

The symposium is being coordinated jointly by the Washington and Oregon Sea Grant programs. It begins March 25 with a full day of field trips around the Tacoma waterfront and the region. For more information, visit the symposium website — — or contact Nicole Faghin, symposium coordinator, at or 206-685-8286.

Based at the University of Washington, Washington Sea Grant provides statewide marine research, outreach and education services. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.

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