To the Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following letter was sent to John Breckenridge, chairman of the harbor management committee:
As a long time Oak Bluffs voter, resident and taxpayer, I am writing to ask your help in understanding numerous confusing and seemingly contradictory harbor policies with regard to the annual Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament. I am a supporter of the forthcoming April 2013 “catch and release” referendum and look forward to your responses and thoughts on these important issues.
Would you be so kind as to formally address the following concerns:
Can the carcasses of dead sharks be legally displayed on the bulkhead, fishing boats and weigh-in station?
Can the organizers of the tournament (Boston Big Game Club) utilize a public address system during the tournament without prior approval and payment of established town fees?
What is the harbor management committee’s role in permitting the shark tournament each year?
What historical contributions have been made to the town (cash or property) by the shark tournament organizers that have benefitted the Oak Bluffs harbor? Documentation of these transfers will be very helpful. I am vaguely aware of some transfer of funds to the fire department for use to offset the costs of a fire department patrol boat.
Does the town of Oak Bluffs own the shark weigh station and adjoining side walk?
Can shark fishermen cook on open barbeques and grills while tied to town-owned slips?
Can shark fisherman drink alcohol from open containers while tied to town-owned slips?
Can tournament organizers cut the fins off of landed sharks and store them in open fish totes?
What is the harbor committee’s role in monitoring the gambling and betting associated with the monster shark tournament, with specific reference to maintaining appropriate records to be filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
Does the town own the land that event organizers cordon off to stage their tournament? I am specifically interested in determining whether this fenced off area is private or public property.
Do shark tournament event organizers require special permission to sell T-shirts, shark bait and tournament hats on town property?
Does the Oak Bluffs board of health have the authority to monitor the mercury count and overall toxicity levels of shark meat donated by tournament officials to local senior citizen groups.
Would you please send me copies of the last 18 months of the minutes of the harbor management committee meetings. They will be helpful to me as I strive to understand more fully the relationship of your committee to the shark tournament organizers. Additionally, would you advise me as to the process of applying to become a member of your committee. I believe that the present configuration of your committee reflects the absense of any women on this important town body.
As you can see, John, there are many complicated and unclear issues that surround our town’s sponsoring of the shark tournament. In your position as chairman of the harbor management committee, you can shed light on these important details. Your insight and intelligence as applied to these important matters will undoubtedly benefit our town and I look forward to meeting with you soon to discuss your reply to this letter.
Debbie Dean, Oak Bluffs