Conference hints at potential for Maine’s maritime economy

An intergovernmental forum of Arctic nations will convene in Portland this week, suggesting the region has an outsized role – and job opportunities – as warming seas open trade routes.

Last month, Bar Harbor became the first American port of call for the first large cruise ship to traverse the Arctic’s fabled Northwest Passage, signaling what some say is Maine’s revival as a thriving maritime economy in a rapidly warming world.

U.S. Sen. Angus King says Crystal Serenity and its 1,000 passengers, some of whom paid up to $120,000 for the trip, are proof Maine can capitalize on the changes already underway in the region at the same time many of its scientists and policymakers, including himself, are trying to study and slow the Arctic melt.

If a large cruise ship can make it, commercial shipping will follow, King said. Not tomorrow, but in 10 to 20 years. While he would hope to slow climate change as much as possible, King said Maine should be pragmatic as it considers how to exploit the economic opportunities that will follow the melt.

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