Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Recently you printed a letter from Scott Terry regarding the controversy over the use of yo-yoing for striped bass. Mr. Terry has a reputation for being a very good artist as well as a very good fisherman and he has certainly had his share of press over the years, not all of it positive.

But after reading his letter I guess we should be thankful to him for a number of things. One is introducing the practice of using live scup as bait for striped bass, something that is now widely practiced by striped bass anglers including many derby committee members and other well-known sport fishermen.

Mr. Terry points out that no actual scientific studies have shown levels of lead in striped bass, and that lead is not going to dissolve and seep into a striper’s flesh. I don’t know about anyone else but I wouldn’t knowingly consume a striper whose digestive system contained lead and I commend the derby committee for their decision to not distribute to senior citizens the filet of any striper that contained the remnants of a yo-yo jig in its belly.

Mr. Terry believes most striped bass pass or regurgitate the lead weights. By now we all know of a few that didn’t and I’d be surprised if a human, let alone a 20 or 30-pound animal could regurgitate or pass a 12-ounce chunk of lead through its digestive system. He says that he and other commercial fishermen have developed a method of yo-yoing that virtually guarantees 100 per cent of bass caught by yo-yoing will be hooked in the upper lip thereby ensuring the safe release of unwanted fish. We can only hope that’s the case. As one of the better up-Island commercial striped bass anglers recently said, there are cleaner ways to catch fish.

Mr. Terry claims he never wanted to be a yo-yo fisherman as he was able to catch his fish with live scup and eels. Something changed his mind, I guess. But there’s a lot of water out there and a lot of different ways to catch fish.

Mr. Terry obviously feels put upon and says that commercial striped bass anglers bear the brunt of every fluctuation in striper stocks, and that yo-yoing has become the most recent target du jour of recreational anglers. An interesting comment as the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters letter to the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) asked that the practice of yo-yoing be banned from use by recreational as well as commercial anglers.

He is right about one thing though, that recreational fishermen account for 70 per cent of striper mortality. He probably just forgot to mention that in Massachusetts alone there are at least 100 times more recreational anglers than commercial — 700,000 more! According to numbers released by the Massachusetts DMF, in 2002 only 1,200 commercial permit holders reported any landings of striped bass. If my math is correct and DMF’s numbers are to be believed, it means that in Massachusetts less than .002 per cent of the total anglers account for 30 per cent of striped bass mortality. Let’s be thankful there aren’t more commercial striped bass permit-holders and the season isn’t longer!

Finally, Mr. Terry believes that the practice of yo-yoing is unenforceable by the DMF. I disagree and believe that any method of fishing that forces lead, cement, spark plugs, wood, steel, or any unnatural substance into a bait that could potentially wind up in the stomach of a striped bass can — and should — be enforced.

Ron Domurat



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The recent media disclosure of yet another controversial call regarding the Boathouse club (the reconstruction of the former Navigator in Edgartown) should concern everyone. The difference between a replacement and a renovation should not solely be based on the so-called 25 per cent rule since we have all observed the classic one flimsy wall left standing approach to development on the Vineyard.

Far more relevant is the future use of a structure. In this case, even if one were convinced to accept the interpretation that part of one standing wall equals 25 per cent of a structure, future use in this case will result in a much more aggressive use of the facility with respect to impacts on the downtown area. It is very discouraging to think that this flawed interpretation allowed this project to go forward without the potential benefits of review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

Our elected officials and government and regulatory staff are obligated to do their best to protect the Island community and resources from any misdirected practices of developers. Whether a town building inspector or the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the general public has no choice but to rely on these regulatory authorities to effectively manage future development. When a project manages to avoid more comprehensive review due to misrepresentation, overly flexible rulings or other forms of convenient interpretation, the impacts of that project and of future growth can be horribly compromised. Projects with such long-term impacts must have review that looks after the interests of the majority of citizens and not just the narrowly defined interests of the minority.

Equally damaging are some of the recent revelations concerning projects that have not complied with rulings by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Without an effective means of enforcing the decisions made by those who regulate activities, the entire process loses credibility. Unfortunately, some in the regulated community simply weigh the potential costs of getting caught should they violate the conditions of their approvals and choose to violate, knowing that enforcement action is unlikely. It further encourages others to do the same.

The Gazette is to be congratulated for its continued coverage of these issues.

David Nash



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This is the first sentence of a South Mountain letter to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission dated Dec. 4, 2007: “We are writing to support the Aquinnah Energy DCPC, and we hope the MVC and the town will develop it in a thorough and highly professional way that assures it will be a successful and appropriate model.” This is what the Gazette wrote: “In a letter to the commission dated Dec. 5, South Mountain Co., a West Tisbury building company that is involved in renewable technologies, also advised against the DCPC.”  

What we said was the opposite of what you reported. We supported the district of critical planning concern then, we support it now, and we will do what we can to help it be a big success.

John Abrams

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We’d like to thank the wonderful cooperation of Edgartown police officers Tony Bettencourt, Jon Searle and Craig Edwards for making the Edgartown School’s annual jingle bell run and walk so successful on Friday, Dec. 21.

The first-place finishers were Joao Carlos and Shivonne Schofield (a repeat winner) with all the students, staff and parents finishing in record time (with their bells jingling all the way). This K through 8 event is run in memory of former chief of police George Searie for his contribution to the town. Thanks to Gina deBettencourt for her tremendous support of all the participants, fueling them with much-needed cocoa, and to all the teachers whose help on the race course made the event a wonderful holiday tradition.

Peace and health in the New Year.

Joe Thibodeau and Michelle Pikor



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Nov. 6, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney. Our representative William Delahunt was among those who tried to kill it by tabling it.

I am baffled by Mr. Delahunt’s behavior.

“Allowing Dick Cheney and George W. Bush to finish their terms without being impeached means future presidents are free to copy their lawless behavior‚“ writes Linda Boyd at washingtonforimpeachment.org.

I agree, and encourage everyone to call Mr. Delahunt at 1-800-870-2626. Tell him to join his judiciary committee colleagues and begin impeachment without further delay.

Chris Fried

Vineyard Haven