The Portland Fish Exchange and the Portland Fish Pier Authority are to merge into one entity, keeping the name Portland Fish Pier Authority, as recently voted by the Portland, Maine City Council. The council voted 8-0 to approve the merger proposal to keep the fish exchange operational and doing business. The merger will stabilize the fish exchange's budget and management, and the effective date of the tie-up will be July 1. 

Back in Oct. 2023, the authority was asked to consider a request to fund toward the exchange’s $125,000 budget deficit, in addition to $15,000 to help pay the share of costs for a new ice machine. In an Oct. 10 memo, Robert Odlin, president of the fish exchange, shared, “The deficit is based on many factors, including fish landings, property maintenance, payroll, and the general effects of inflation on the cost of doing business in Maine this year.”

The fish exchange opened its doors in 1986 and has since become a hub for buying and selling Gulf of Maine groundfish. However, as the groundfish industry has declined over the past few years, the fish exchange has struggled to stay afloat and has often relied on funding from the authority.

The Portland Fish Exchange. Doug Stewart photo.

The Portland Fish Pier Authority was incorporated in August 1989 and formed by the municipal officers of the City of Portland as a local development corporation. It was put in place to manage and market the entire premises known as the Portland Fish Pier for the benefit of the fishing and fishery-related business enterprises of the City of Portland. 

The merger has been discussed for years to help the exchange maintain a functional fish auction for New England groundfishermen. A single board of directors will now oversee the combined budget for the new Portland Fish Pier Authority.

City councilor Anna Bullett shared, “This order is really to merge two bodies that have existed for a long time. One is the Portland Fish Pier Authority and the Portland Fish Exchange. Historically, they have both done separate work, but there is a lot of crossover.”

The Portland Fish Exchange. Doug Stewart photo.

The press release stated that the merger would allow for more streamlined work and reduce duplication of some departments and services. 

“It will hopefully open some exciting opportunities in climate change mitigation, fish process perhaps, new technologies, and a new ice machine,” shared Bullett.

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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