At 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 19, state and local officials, legislators and saltwater anglers gathered for the opening celebration of the Oak Bluffs Fishing Pier. The pier is the largest recreational fishing pier in Massachusetts, extending 317 feet into Nantucket Sound. Located adjacent to the Steamship Authority Pier, it offers ample space for fishing and enjoying the view.
Under overcast skies and a light rain, a series of speakers took time to thank the countless people who were involved in getting the project off the ground. The pier’s construction was overseen by the Department of Fish and Game’s office of Fishing and Boating Access and the Division of Marine Fisheries, but supported by many other groups. DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin facilitated the ceremony.
Oak Bluffs selectman Greg Coogan opened the event by praising the partnership that developed between the town of Oak Bluffs and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He also spoke about his excitement for what the pier will bring to the Island community.
“This will give everyday citizens young and old, handicapped and able-bodied, direct access to a first-class fishing resource or, as I did in February, just taking a beautiful stroll down the pier,” Mr. Coogan said. “In an era where public access to the waterfront is often threatened, together we’re expanding it, and this is only the beginning.”
Mr. Coogan added that in the fall, he hopes to begin construction on a seawall and pedestrian boardwalk that will provide both protection from storms and more waterfront space for people to enjoy.
Martin Suuberg, energy and environmental affairs undersecretary for environment, also delivered a short speech. Among those he expressed gratitude to were Ms. Griffin, State Representative Tim Madden, the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association, the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Panel, the Massachusetts Sportsmen Council, the town of Oak Bluffs, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which contributed over half of the project’s funds through a $580,000 grant.
“I hope today and every day hereafter and in days like this and in days where the sun actually shines, you all take a moment to celebrate and get to enjoy this wonderful facility,” Mr. Suuberg said to the crowd.
Mr. Madden took the podium next, praising the current and previous Oak Bluffs board of selectmen for advocating for the pier project.
“To me the pier is not just about access; it will create memories,” he said. “Most of us can remember fishing with our mother or our father and then doing it with our own children and now grandchildren. It’s special. A lot of memories are going to be created right here, by people from across the commonwealth and across the globe.”
Chuck Casella, chairman of the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Panel, spoke of the impact that saltwater fishing permit sales had on the pier project. The permits, sold to anglers for $10, contributed about $188,000 to the funding of the pier.
Other speakers included director of Marine Fisheries Paul Diodati, director of the Office of Fishing and Boating Access Jack Shepard, and former MVSA president Bob Lane.
“Thanks to everyone who had something to do with bringing this gem to our Island, not just for today but for generations to come,” Mr. Lane said. “The anglers among us and locals and visitors alike say thank you. The parents of the children who use this pier also say thank you. Those folks who use this pier with physical limits say thank you, and most of all, the children and their children who come to use this pier will say thank you.”
The ceremony concluded with a ribbon cutting and refreshments and appetizers served at the Lookout Tavern.