call to arms

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the New England Fishery Management Council Herring Advisory Panel on May 11:

My name is Capt. William (Buddy) Vanderhoop. I am a Wampanoag Native American, a charter captain, commercial fisherman and therefore “steward of the sea.” I am writing to address the issue of what I consider to be one of the greatest travesties regarding fisheries management of our time. I feel that the federal government is sanctioning the demise of our local forage fish (herring and mackerel) off the coast of New England by allowing — encouraging, actually — the large factory midwater trawlers in our waters. Hey, like many a full-time fisherman, the ocean is our office and we know that these trawlers (and this means of destructive fishing) are absolutely destroying our local fisheries. We’re out on the water all of the time, we live it, we see how things have become so horribly out of balance in our native waters.

I have operated the Aquinnah Wampanoag herring run for 35 years. I would fish the run for three days and then let the herring run for the next four days to insure the health and balance of the fishery. This run has been one of the healthiest and largest in New England because of this proper management. However about six years ago things changed. It was then that the midwater trawlers largely came into the picture, fishing off our shores. My run began to rapidly decline — to about 85 per cent of its original capacity. Coincidence? I think not. Every herring run in New England is currently in serious decline.

All of our local fish — flounder, cod, bass, bluefish, tuna — as well as dolphin and whales eat the herring and mackerel. Obviously it doesn’t take a genius to know that if you take away their main food supply the fisheries decline and even crash.

Last fall I spoke at length with friends in Nova Scotia that are fishermen. They said that they had had the best swordfishing and tuna fishing season in years. They attributed it to the abundance of bait (herring and mackerel) in their waters because the midwater trawlers are banned in their country. Their pelagic fisheries are booming.

I was a swordfisherman for 20 years and have made at least 30 trips over the past four years to the canyons south and east of New England in search of tuna. In four years I have only seen two swordfish, in areas that used to have hundreds of swordfish. The larger pelagic fish are bypassing New England due to the shortage of forage fish and going to more abundant Canadian waters.

We have to stop the midwater trawlers — now! The federal government has to invest in alternative job training for all who are involved in this needless devastation of our waters. With the current administration and its economic stimulus programs, this seems like the perfect time to accomplish the phasing out of these destructive fishing methods by retraining these people.

Please contact your state senators, congressmen and other representatives to put a stop to this devastation. No more midwater trawlers. We cannot wait, do more studies (translation — stall), cater to the powerful commercial fishing lobbies with their deep pockets any longer. The very health and future of our ocean depends on it. I consider this the biggest call to arms of our lifetime — so get involved — help to protect our precious local fisheries.

Capt. Buddy Vanderhoop



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the West Tisbury selectmen:

It is hard for me to believe that you can think about stopping the ongoing cell phone antenna process on the complaints of a couple of women who claim they “don’t have a cell phone and never will!” So because these women don’t like cell phones, the rest of us shouldn’t have adequate coverage? This is crazy!

I guess what I really don’t understand is why we don’t have great cell phone reception on this Island. The President has and may again visit here. Some of the most important and influential people have houses here. Never mind the rest of us. Especially the ones in the contracting and other businesses who depend on the phones every day.

I have been to third world countries that have better service than Martha’s Vineyard.

Why don’t we have real towers on Peaked Hill, Chilmark, the fire tower, West Tisbury, the lighthouse, Aquinnah and other logical high places up-Island?

If in fact the government officials that will make the decisions are really listening only to the naysayers then it is time for all of us to sound off for better cell phone service up-Island.

There will be a public hearing on up-Island cell service on May 27 at 7 p.m. at the public safety building in West Tisbury. Please attend and make yourself heard or write a letter or call any up-Island selectman and give your opinion.

It would be sad if someone has to die because there was no cell phone service to call for help.

Bill Haynes

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

My wife and I are writing to express our deep appreciation to all of you who acted recently on behalf of our beloved son, Tom Osmers.

What action can parents and family take when an offspring is diagnosed with a serious illness? Encouragement, support, physical help and lots and lots of prayers, of course.

But to learn that a joining together by Tom’s fellow men and women throughout his community, to show their affection and support is also a great gift and source of love to all — Tom and family.

We want to thank those who planned the benefit in West Tisbury and everyone who attended.

Regretfully, my wife and I were physically unable to attend, but we deeply appreciate the actions of all. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Mary Lou and Bob Osmers

Bayside, Queens, N.Y.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On behalf of the Martha’s Vineyard Cancer Support Group, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Island people who contributed to our very successful fund-raiser, An Evening under the Stars, held on May 14 at The Mediterranean Restaurant.

Our group prides itself in having no administrative costs. We have no office, no executive director, not even a company telephone. Therefore all the money that we raise stays here on the Island and goes directly to Island residents and their families who are battling cancer and could use some financial assistance.

We could not carry out our mission and done so well on the recent fund-raiser without the help of many people. We acknowledge with gratitude:

Doug and Leslie Hewson, owners of the Mediterranean, who provided a warm and welcoming atmosphere at their new locale and to their staff who were gracious and accommodating throughout the evening as they provided outstanding food and service.

The Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank and Leigh Carroll of Carroll’s Trucking who covered all expenses incurred with the fund-raiser so that the proceeds can go directly to Island residents with cancer who need help.

The many Island vendors who provided the food, flowers, door prizes and items for the gift bags.

The Mike Benjamin Trio who provided the music.

All of you people who answered our plea to make a donation even if you couldn’t attend the event. The response was outstanding.

We have funds available. We encourage any Island resident who is dealing with cancer and needs temporary and financial help to please call 508-627-7958. All inquiries are confidential.

Also remember that for sharing, strength and hope, a support group meets every Wednesday at noon at the Hebrew Center on Centre street in Vineyard Haven. All meetings are confidential.

No one with cancer needs to be alone.

Jane C. Carroll, President

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I wish to correct a factual error that appeared in last Friday’s article titled “High Tea to Remember Marcy Slater.” I am not a professor at Harvard University. Would that I were! My affiliation with Harvard is as member of and study group leader at the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement.

Linda Zeltzer