A portion of Lagoon Pond on the Vineyard Haven side was closed to bay scalloping this week to protect a healthy crop of seed scallops in the area. Acting on the recommendation of town shellfish constable Danielle Ewart, the Tisbury selectmen voted 2-0 with one abstention to close the Lagoon from an area near Maciel Marine to the Oak Bluffs town line and the day marker off Hines Point. The area reserved for dipnetting will remain open; maps of the closed area are posted to inform scallopers.
The decision drew vocal protest from commercial scallopers.
“In a couple of hours we can get a bushel of adults and make fairly good money,” said commercial scalloper Lynn Fraker.
“I think if we are educated about the ponds and we know what we’re taking then I think there’s a living out there,” said Gretchen Godek. “Closing it is probably not a good idea because a lot of us depend on it.”
But Ms. Ewart said she had noticed a large amount of seed scallop being taken out of the pond this season.
“I went down to the shell pile [and] just picked up 12 shells and half of them, I noticed, were actually seed,” she said.
Scallops have a two-year life cycle, and in the second year show a growth ring on their shells. A seed scallop is one that does not show its growth ring regardless of size. This year, conditions in the pond are such that the seed is particularly large.
Shellfish committee member Jamie Tilton told the selectmen Tuesday that his committee had not discussed the decision but he backed the recommendation of the constable. “From what I’ve seen -- I’ve never seen so much large seed in that area. It way outnumbers the adults . . . I’m all for closing this as soon as possible,” he said. “They’re very healthy beautiful stuff; they should live to spawn next year,” he said. “It’s worth the gamble to have the scallops.”
Tisbury resident Guy Codding said seed had disappeared from Hines Point as well as the shipyard area “at an alarming rate,” and he urged the selectmen to back their constable.
“I think you should support [Ms. Ewart] on this; you hired her to do it,” he said.
Selectman Tristan Israel moved to approve Ms. Ewart’s recommendation but asked if there was room for compromise in when the closure would take place.
Selectman Jonathan Snyder said the closure should be immediate.
“We do rely on our shellfish committee and our shellfish warden to manage this resource,” Mr. Snyder said. “We have to listen to our experts when they say this is something to be concerned about.”
Town administrator John (Jay) Grande said the pressure to police scallops taken from the area until Friday would be “extreme.”
“I feel strongly that it’s putting too much burden on Danielle’s staff,” he said. “[The issue] is too charged up.”
Mr. Israel said he felt the area should stay open until Friday and abstained from the final vote. Chairman Jeff Kristal and Mr. Snyder voted for the closure.