The harbour is an "international gateway" according to the council
The Scottish Government has been accused by the local council of "downgrading" multi-million pound plans to regenerate Stranraer waterfront.
It follows the restructuring of Scottish Enterprise and the devolution of regeneration projects to councils.
Dumfries and Galloway Council said the scheme had gone from being a "national" to a "local" priority.
A Scottish Government spokesman said it still wanted the project to succeed and deliver benefits for the area.
Scottish Enterprise had earmarked the project as one of "national significance".
It stood to draw down significant funding but responsibility for that has been handed to the council which says it does not have the money.
Council leader Ivor Hyslop said it put the whole project in doubt in a key part of the region.
"Stranraer is an international gateway to Scotland," he said.
"It is one of the busiest sea crossings in Britain and it is a priority route to Ireland and a key link to Europe."
He said it deserved to be recognised and designated as a project of national significance.
"Perhaps it is just too far from the central belt to have an impact on policy," said Mr Hyslop.
The claim that the project had been downgraded was rejected by a Scottish Government spokesman.
"Regeneration of Stranraer waterfront is an important local regeneration project," he said.
"The Scottish Government wants to see this project succeed and deliver benefits for the community and wider region.
"In line with our stated policy of enterprise network reforms, responsibility for the Stranraer waterfront regeneration project will transfer to Dumfries and Galloway Council."