Commercial fishermen packed the room for the Chilmark selectmen’s meeting Tuesday to voice concerns about a planned new charter fishing boat operation out of Menemsha.

Last month the selectmen approved Stephen Broderick’s request to run a fishing party boat out of Menemsha beginning in the summer of 2018, following some discussion about slip location and the increased stress on parking the service might bring to the area. Mr. Broderick, a longtime fisherman, said he plans to move into the charter business for economic survival.

But members of the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust this week raised objections to allowing the charter to run out of the commercial dock.

Shelley Edmundson, executive director of the trust, read aloud a letter to the board. The letter expressed support for the business plan, but took issue with the tie-up location.

“Permitting charter boats to dock within the commercial fishing dock space will change the clear designated use of the commercial fishing dock area, and will utilize space needed for commercial fishing operations,” she said. 

Selectman Jim Malkin pointed out the general decrease in commercial fishing activity in Menemsha, especially compared to activity from the late 1940s through 1970s. 

“Mr. Broderick’s operation, which is proposed for next summer, not this coming summer, should pose no problem to the existing conditions in harbor,” Mr. Malkin said. “Should traffic from commercial fishing boats increase next summer, or in the future, and the presence of Mr. Broderick’s vessel encumber commercial fishing in Menemsha, then the harbor master should relocate the vessel’s tie-up.”

Karsten Larsen objected. “The number one thing that brings revenue to this town is the fact that we’re still a commercial fishing community,” he said. “I’m not against it, but I don’t think it should be tied there on the commercial dock, just in case, because quote-unquote there are a few boats that are supposed to be coming in this year, and fluking hasn’t even started yet, and there’s a 75-footer that comes in sometimes.” 

Mr. Broderick said he can be flexible regarding a slip location. “Now I’m willing to move anywhere, I am,” he said.

John Keene, president of the trust, suggested the importance of finding a preapproved secondary location for Mr. Broderick’s boat to tie-up in the event that commercial traffic in the harbor significantly increase in coming years. 

But harbor master Dennis Jason expressed confusion at the debate: “We have almost 300 feet . . . so where’s the conflict?” he said.

In the end, selectman Warren Doty called the discussion useful. “I think this discussion is valuable, and we’ve aired a lot of different concerns that people have,” he said. “What we’ve said is we need to work on this and hear the whole context of rafting up and moving about, and with the harbor master’s input, I think we’ve got that now. Nothing’s going to happen this summer, and we’re going to work on this. We have a whole year to discuss this and figure out how it’s best to operate this.”

In other business, the selectmen approved a $1,460.48 repair to a section of the floor at the Chilmark School. They also approved a number of beach staff, police and committee appointments. Dianne Smith was named surveyor of wood, lumber and bark after the position went vacant during the annual town election. 

A request from the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival to host movies at the Chilmark Community Center and Menemsha Beach was approved, along with a proposal to bury PVC pipe at the Center for use with the Cinema Circus tent.

The selectmen also went over various items regarding preparations in Menemsha for this summer, including improvements to the shuttle parking lot, the installation of the swim line at Menemsha Beach, and the implementation of parking rules around the harbor.