EDITORIAL: Maritime activity important for local economy
In the spirit of Labor Day weekend, it’s a good time to remember the importance of maritime activity along the coast.
Whether it be the beaches, commercial and recreational fishing, coast- and bay-wise shipping and piloting, or beach nourishment, dredging and recent outfall construction that have made the presence of tugs, barges and their crews a much greater presence in recent years, maritime-related jobs are plentiful here.
Maritime history also plays a role in the tourist economy.
In Lewes, the town’s historic relationship with the sea is memorialized as one of the community’s core values; in Rehoboth, the explorer Verrazzano’s monument and historic wreck markers add depth to the city’s historic allure; in Milton, shipbuilding roots are a constant reminder of its connection with the sea.
However, for maritime activity to remain vital, it has to be celebrated and maintained.
The unexpected arrival recently of the full-size, 100-plus-foot replica of a thousand-year- old Viking ship for a brief layover served as a reminder. Tied up at the city dock in Lewes, it drew hundreds of spectators. They quickened the pulse of downtown Lewes.
When Paul Buchness operated Lighthouse Restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf years ago, he said whenever Delaware’s tall ship Kalmar Nyckel tied up at the same dock, business volume jumped 10 to 15 percent.
But the Kalmar Nyckel no longer comes. Sediment has compromised the depth of the canal. Dredging projects are few and far between. The ship has made extensive summer stays at the ferry terminal dock in recent years, but even that ended this year due to silting.
State, local and ferry officials should refocus on dredging projects including those needed at the ferry terminal and in the canal. Maintaining maritime traditions is just as important for the present as it was for the past, for our economy and quality of life.