The Fishermen


THE MOST IMPORTANT FISH IN THE SEA, by H. Bruce Franklin. Island Press / Shearwater Books, Washington, 2007, 266 pages.

Eleven years ago, a group of Island fishermen went to Sandwich to attend a public hearing on the management of striped bass. We all sat in an overcrowded auditorium and listened. One commercial lobsterman stood before the regulators and complained too many striped bass were eating his lobsters and ruining his fishery.

President Requests States Give Striped Bass Game Fish Status

An American president rarely speaks on a fisheries issue, but George W. Bush did so two weeks ago.

President Bush recently came out with an executive order directing the National Marine Fisheries Service to prohibit the commercial harvesting of striped bass and red drum in federal waters. A moratorium already is in place on the catching of striped bass in federal offshore waters for all commercial and recreational fishermen, so nothing changes.

Bay Scallop Season Opens Across Island With Predictions for a Decent Harvest

Early reports indicate a solid but not spectacular bay scalloping season on the Island this year, and shellfish constables report a healthy crop of seed for next year’s harvest.

Commercial scallopers are enjoying early success outside town harbors in Edgartown, Vineyard Haven, Chilmark and Oak Bluffs, and near-record opening prices of $18 per pound for their catch.

Shellfish constables are not expecting a banner year on the ponds.

Federal Moves Push Prices For Fishermen’s Fuel Above $3

For the second week in a row, Chilmark selectmen on Tuesday addressed the continuing struggles of commercial fishermen on the Menemsha harborfront and the state of the town fishing industry.

A number of fishermen, members of the shellfish advisory committee and the town harbor master turned out to discuss rising fuel prices and hear a plan to survey the biology of Menemsha Pond in an effort to enhance fish stock.

Fishermen Take Their Case To New England Council

Concerned the Vineyard will be locked out of participation in a restored federal fishery, a small group of Island commercial fishermen went to a meeting of the New England Fishery Management Council last month to make their plea for some part of the future pie.

Today only one Island fisherman, Gregory Mayhew of Chilmark, is permitted to pursue cod, haddock and yellowtail in federal waters.

Wasque Rips Churn, and Anglers Rejoice in Bluefish Bonanza

The bluefish are in. For at least one fisherman, the arrival was like an old-fashioned Wasque bluefish blitz.

On Monday, Ed Amaral drove to Chappaquiddick to get his line wet and perhaps catch the first bluefish of the season. While he didn't get the first one, he certainly got more than he expected.

The Fishermen


Thirty years ago, the invention of the electronic fish finder helped fishermen out in their boats find fish. Today’s great device, the computer hooked up to the Internet, helps the rest of us find fishermen who know where to find the fish.

The culture of the Internet has helped charter fishing captains just as it has helped a lot of other businesses.

The Fishermen


Rick Karney, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, returned last week from an international conference on invasive sea squirts, where he and one of his staff were both speakers and participants.

There has been plenty of discussion on the Vineyard about invasive foreign plants in the Island landscape; offshore, the ocean bottom and the water column are also in a state of change. New plants and animals are taking up residence in coastal waters that may have a long-term impact.

Bait Boat

Capt. Wayne Iacono and a number of other Menemsha lobstermen are having a better autumn this year because of the help of a local draggerman, Capt. Craig Coutinho of the fishing boat Viking.

“If it wasn’t for Craig we’d all be in trouble,” Captain Iacono said.

Bringing Back Cod

Important changes came last week in the effort to bring cod back to New England waters.

The New England Fishery Management Council at its meeting in Plymouth established a protective zone for juvenile cod in the Great South Channel.

While it will take up to three years to come up with protective rules for that area, the decision sets aside a portion of open ocean where it is known that undersized fish need to be protected.