Menemsha Harbor was a ghost town on Wednesday, with almost no one in sight and only a few boats down at the end of Dutcher Dock.

The sound of a circular saw biting into concrete made it hard not to notice Jay Lagemann slowly dismembering his iconic sculpture, the Swordfish Harpooner, which has stood over the harbor since 1994.

Commissioned for Chilmark’s tricentennial in 1994, the 17-foot-tall sculpture is an homage to the fishing industry. Now it will be taken down in pieces and sent to ART Research Enterprises, a foundry in Lancaster, Penn., where workers will recast it and create the new bronze version. Mr. Lagemann will be on hand to oversee the alignment and other steps in the process.

Commissioned for the Chilmark tricentennial in 1994, the sculpture has rusted from weather and will be recast in bronze. — Alex Elvin

Perched on a makeshift wooden platform Wednesday, the artist stood face to face with his creation: a figure made of concrete and rebar, wielding a harpoon and standing on the tail of a swordfish.

By early afternoon, the figure hadn’t budged, and he was considering switching to a more powerful reciprocating saw. But he noted that the vibrations could further damage the already deteriorating artwork.

The morning light revealed the piece’s rugged beauty, but also the many cracks in its surface and a crumbling frame beneath. Mr. Lagemann removed a broken chunk of concrete from the swordfish’s head, reached inside and pulled out a few shards of rusty rebar which crumbled between his fingers.

Over the past two decades, the wind and sea have taken their toll on the sculpture. Mr. Lagemann plans to raise $50,000 through private donations and an online Kickstarter campaign to recast it in bronze.

A larger version of his sculpture Swinging Jenny, versions of which now reside at the Field Gallery and the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury, has been commissioned for a well-known client in Manhattan. The plaster and styrofoam model will be heading to the same foundry along with the Swordfish Harpooner in the coming weeks.

It’s not the first time the Swordfish Harpooner has been recast in bronze, Mr. Lagemann said, but so far all of the copies have been small.

Despite its decay, the sculpture has become a lasting symbol of Menemsha, with people often requesting smaller versions of their own. “It was the best investment of time and effort I’ve ever made,” Mr. Lagemann said, largely crediting the piece for his success as a sculptor. “Everybody sees it, and it’s what got me into making bronzes.”

The fishing industry has declined drastically since the 1980s, but still lives on in Menemsha. Mr. Lagemann said the man perched above the swordfish embodies the drama of the hunt, but also people’s dependence on the fisheries.

He recalled visiting Menemsha as a young boy in the 1950s and his fascination with the secluded fishing village. “In the summer a lot of times there would be commercial fishing boats rafted out six or seven deep here,” he said, motioning toward the empty harbor. “There was a lot of fish in the old days.”

The new version will have the same metal harpoon, donated by brothers Greg and Jonathan Mayhew, who fished out of Menemsha for decades. But the shank and dart have decayed and were replaced many years ago.

On Wednesday, Menemsha seemed especially vacant without the Unicorn, Greg Mayhew’s legendary dragger, which has also deteriorated over the years and was recently sold to a buyer on the mainland. “The rust got both of us,” Mr. Lagemann said.

But unlike the Unicorn, the swordfish sculpture will return. The new sculpture will occupy the same spot atop the sand dune just across from Menemsha Texaco, where thousands of people will see it every year. It will look nearly the same, except for its surface, which Mr. Lagemann said would likely be a rich brown with dark grooves. The piece originally stood several feet above the sand, but the growing dune has nearly reached the belly of the swordfish. Mr. Lagemann was unsure whether to maintain its current height, but he had time to think it over.

“We will put in a good, solid foundation,” he said, gazing out over the harbor and the distant landscape of Aquinnah.

Before long the artist was back to work with his circular saw, dismantling his creation so it could live again.