This article was first published in the June 3, 2005 edition of the Amity Gazette, which was created by the Vineyard Gazette in honor of the 30th anniversary of Jaws' release in theatres.

Amity selectmen announced Thursday a new tax will be imposed on all paraphernalia bearing the image The White Shark. Beginning July 1, all merchants will be required to pay an additional 2 per cent to the town for all items sold with the shark.

Many Islanders feel marketing for the shark has gone overboard.

“This is a way to ensure that everything sold with the shark logo will benefit the residents of Amity,” said mayor Larry Vaughn Jr. “All the money received from the tax will go directly to building a new shark aquarium.”

Mr. Vaughn said the town is projecting $3.5 million in revenue from the tax.

While the selectmen are embracing the shark image as a way to keep the town from faltering and boost the economy, many residents are appalled at the new tax.

John Hendrix, 76, has lived on the Island his entire life. He remembers a time when the mention of a shark brought fear and sadness to anyone walking the streets of Amity. As this money making scheme has emerged over the years Hendrix has watched in disgust.

“Mrs. Kintner is rolling over in her grave,” Mr. Hendrix said. “She lost her son to that shark and now people are making money off of it. Just looking at one of those T-shirts makes me so mad. You know I lost some neighbors to those sharks. I’d rather be dead than wearing something from The White Shark.”

Many other Islanders feel the marketing of the shark image has gone overboard in the last several years. Maggie Harb, 53, still remembers the outrage she felt when the bakery next to her gift shop began selling a black shirt with a white shark printed on it.

But three years later, when the summer season ended and her sales had once again declined, she noticed Brett Knots, the bakery owner, had purchased a new BMW.

“There he was driving around in a new car and I could barely pay my rent,” Mrs. Harb said. “I asked him about it, and he said it was the shark.”

The business proved to be lucrative for Mr. Knots. He sold more shark T-shirts than anything else in his bakery. After five years he changed the store’s name to The White Shark Bakery. His sales have seen a steady increase over the years and the company is now the largest on the Island.

“I’m not trying to hurt anyone,” Mr. Knots said. “I never thought it would take off like this, but it did. Now the town can make some money, too.”

At The White Shark tourists can buy anything from rubber sharks and authentic shark teeth to T-shirts, baseball caps and coffee mugs. With a retail branch on every corner as well as a restaurant, bakery and coffee shop, The White Shark has turned the devastating events into a way to make money.

“I like to think of it as a tribute to those who died at the mouth of the great white shark,” Mr. Knots said.

Mr. Vaughn said the selectmen’s decision to impose the tax is not intended to disgrace those who lost their lives.

“The Island has been in such a decline since the unfortunate events, we hope that this will be a way to support all who have been affected and begin a new chapter in Amity,” Mr. Vaughn said.