Shellfishermen File Application for Offshore Blue Mussel Farm

Several shellfishermen and fishermen are taking a first step on a long road to raise blue mussels for market in Vineyard waters.

Rick Karney, director of the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group, the project's principal investigator, has applied for a state grant to fund half of a $28,730 feasibility project.Blue mussels are a highly prized shellfish. Island consumers buy plenty of them in local fish markets, but nearly all the mussels come from Canada.

Researchers Find Blue Mussels Flourish in Island Experiment

On this November morning, the Menemsha lobster boat Shearwater has made its way three and a half miles south of Noman’s Land.

Noman’s tall cliffs rise above the treacherous rocky waters. Sea birds are adrift in the moving current farther north.

Waves roll from the open ocean and raise and lower the boat in a gentle fashion, like a mother rocking a sleeping child. The sky is blue and metallic; the color of the sea beneath is a darker version of the sky. A gentle cold breeze freshens. The bow points towards Spain.

The Fishermen

Island fish, like Island tourists, come and go with the seasons. Striped bass, bluefish, false albacore, bonito and scup and summer flounder all migrate.

Yet there is one species of fish that once were caught here year-round. Winter flounder stayed in Island waters through the changing seasons.

Next week the Chilmark Public Library is hosting a forum with a top New England authority on the raising of juvenile winter flounder.

Chilmark Sees Shellfish Restoration as Success

As the Chilmark shellfish department wraps up its first summer, efforts at spearheading restoration projects have been successful. Selectman Warren Doty, chairman of the board and liaison to the department, reported a low mortality rate among planted scallops and a very high production rate.

“It has been a very successful season,” he said.

To date, 100,000 scallop seed have been set to grow in an upweller, purchased by the town this spring and located in Menemsha, as well as in spat bags and pearl nets.

Pond Stock Rising

Pond Stock Rising

The late Foster Silva, longtime superintendent for The Trustees of Reservations on Chappaquiddick who loved to tell perfect strangers that he had received his degree from Katama University, had an opinion on the subject of bay scallops. Cape Pogue scallops, he said, were the sweetest. No arguments.

Success of Blue Mussel Project Heartens Fishing Advocates

For Rick Karney, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, 2008 is becoming the Year of the Blue Mussel.

In recent weeks, Mr. Karney’s group has received positive news about the prospects of raising blue mussels in local waters.

While the Island group already raises juvenile bay scallops, quahaugs and oysters for participating towns on a regular basis, the organization also is participating in a blue-mussel experiment that could expand aquaculture to the open water.

Project Would Meld Wind Power, Fish Farm

More than 15 years ago, Brian Braginton-Smith of West Yarmouth came forward with an idea to meld wind power and aquaculture in what he envisioned as an “ocean ranch.”

Mr. Braginton-Smith’s proposal was the seed for what became the controversial proposal by Cape Wind Associates to place 130 wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoal south of Cape Cod.

The visionary now has separated himself from Cape Wind, saying he is concerned about the impact such a project would have on what he sees as an environmentally fragile fishing ground.

A Quiet Leader, Warren Doty Dedicates Himself to Chilmark

When Warren Doty first moved the Vineyard in the late 1970s, the Menemsha harborfront was booming.

“Then there were five boats landing 10,000 pounds of sea scallops every three days,” he recalled. “There was a work force of ten shuckers in three different shucking shacks. That’s 30 Islanders working on the docks with about fifteen on boats. The season lasted from October to April every year. There were 45 to 50 jobs in Menemsha for six to eight months during the season.

Blue Mussel Farm Planted at Sea, Raising Hopes for Future Fishery

The Vineyard’s first experimental blue mussel farm began operating in waters off Cape Higgon in Chilmark this past week.

Two weeks ago fishermen suspended a 500-foot cable 30 feet underwater in Vineyard Sound. Last week they hung lines on the cable that were loaded with juvenile blue mussels, held to the line by a biodegradable fabric called socks.

If the project is successful, by the end of next year the mussels will be marketable.

Banner Season for Bay Scallops

Vineyard bay scallops, the Island’s biggest export this time of year, are at a premium.

Even though fishermen are coming ashore on the mainland with product, Roy Scheffer of Edgartown, a longtime commercial fisherman, said: “We have the nicest scallops. It looks like it is going to be a good Christmas.”

The price fell early in November, but it is back up now. At the market, fishermen can expect to get paid as much as $13 a pound for their shucked product. Consumers can expect to pay close to $17 a pound retail.

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