A small but spirited group of fishermen met this week to discuss forming an advocacy organization.
The meeting was held Wednesday at the county administration building; 16 people attended. The idea of forming a formal fishermen’s association comes at a time when federal regulators are clamping down on fishing permits and a new bill has been filed in the state legislature to ban commercial fishing for striped bass.
“To me, anything we can do to support an industry that has existed here for a long time is a good thing,” said Tristan Israel, a Tisbury selectman.
“We all sit around this room representing different factions. We have mobile gear fishermen. We have pot fishermen. We have conch fishermen. We have commercial striped bass fishermen and hook fishermen. There are so many different regulations that affect us all. I doubt we can have an influence on the federal regulations, but I think we can have an impact on state regulations,” said Dennis Jason, the Chilmark harbor master who owns the Menemsha dragger Little Lady.
“We should do this as soon as possible,” said Buddy Vanderhoop, a commercial and charter fisherman from Aquinnah.
Gregory Mayhew, a draggerman from Menemsha, agreed. “Some kind of organization is greatly needed, to protect the interests of fishermen on the Island. We are now down to only a few of us,” he said.
The group discussed a possible name, with no conclusion, but agreed that Warren Doty, a Chilmark selectman and former owner of a wholesale seafood business, will serve as co-chairman along with Tom Osmers, West Tisbury shellfish constable.
The group plans to meet again on Feb. 18.
Mr. Doty later cited the move to organize as necessary for survival. “The days of fishermen working as mavericks, working alone are over. We need a cooperative approach to the resource. We need to represent the small boat operators, because the big boat operators are all well represented,” he said.