The Vineyard Gazette will donate $9,000 to the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, the result of a successful subscription promotion drive that called attention to the plight of the Island’s coastal ponds.

Following a series of articles by reporter Alex Elvin on the causes and effects of nitrogen pollution on the ponds, the Gazette announced last November that it would give the shellfish group the equivalent of 1,000 seed quahaugs (about $14.70) for every new or renewal subscription it received by Jan. 31, 2016. Clams and other shellfish filter nutrients from the water, a modest but important way to help maintain healthy ponds.

Jane Seagrave, publisher of the Gazette, said almost 600 people responded to the clams promotion offer, and the Gazette rounded the total up to $9,000. That translates roughly to 630,000 seed clams.

Founded in 1976, the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group Inc. is a nonprofit organization that receives modest financial support from the six Island towns through their shellfish departments. Beyond that the group is supported by private donations. Its mission is to preserve and expand the traditional shellfisheries on the Vineyard, notably scallops, oysters and clams. The group maintains a solar-assisted hatchery on Lagoon Pond in Oak Bluffs and is actively testing and employing innovative aquaculture techniques.

Rick Karney, longtime director of the shellfish group, said the money would be used to produce seed shellfish and support other aquaculture endeavors.

“We produce clam seed — that’s what it will be used for,” he said. “It’s like the Gazette and its readership adopted lots of clams.”

He also praised the initiative. “I think the fact that this has come on the heels of all your reporting on the coastal ponds — it’s like you folks have put your money where your mouth is. This is action,” he said, concluding:

“It was the perfect ending to your series. And we at the shellfish group are happier than clams at high water.”

Ms. Seagrave said the idea of the Gazette making a donation on behalf of its readers to an Island nonprofit came out of reader focus groups held in the spring of 2015.

“Readers told us they looked to the Gazette to be a thought leaders in how to preserve and protect the Island. They also said they were not interested in receiving tote bags or other premiums for subscribing,” she said. “We put these two things together and have been delighted by the positive reaction.”

The Gazette’s series, Coastal Ponds Under Pressure, can be found at For more about the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, go to