Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd.

206 A.3d 283 (2019)

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Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd.

Maine Supreme Judicial Court
206 A.3d 283 (2019)

Facts

Under the Massachusetts Bay Colonial Ordinance of 1641–1647 (Colonial Ordinance), as recognized by the Maine State Constitution, the intertidal zone, i.e., the area between the low-water mark and the high-water mark, was the property of the upland property owner. However, this zone was subject to public rights of access. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court had held that, under the common law, the public had the right to access the intertidal zone for purposes of fishing, fowling, and navigation. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd. (Acadian) (defendant) harvested rockweed from the intertidal zone for use in products such as fertilizer. Kenneth Ross, Carl Ross, and the Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corporation (collectively, Ross) (plaintiffs) owned coastal intertidal property on the Maine coast. Acadian harvested rockweed from intertidal zones of the Ross property without Ross’s consent. Ross sued Acadian, asking for declaratory and injunctive relief to bar Acadian from harvesting rockweed from the intertidal zone. Acadian argued that harvesting rockweed was a form of fishing and thus permissible in the intertidal zone under the public-trust doctrine. The trial court ruled in Ross’s favor on Ross’s motion for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hjelm, J.)

Concurrence (Saufley, C.J.)

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