Environmental police coverage is stepping up on the Island.

The recently-appointed colonel of the Massachusetts Environmental Police this week introduced Sgt. Scott Opie, a new part-time officer who began work on the Island three weeks ago.

“We realize our footprint needs to be bigger here,” Col. Shaun Santos told a gathering of police chiefs, shellfish constables, fishermen, hunters, harbor masters and others at the Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Wednesday. “We ideally want to have an officer posted here full-time.”

Martha’s Vineyard has had no full-time environmental police coverage since Sgt. Bill Searle retired 15 years ago.

A large group attended the ceremony at the Rod and Gun Club. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Last summer all six Island police chiefs signed a series of letters to the Executive Officer of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the state agency that oversees the environmental police, expressing concern about diminishing environmental police coverage on the Island. Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank and the Trustees of Reservation wrote a similar letter.

For now, Colonel Santos said Sergeant Opie is commuting to the Island from the south shore four days a week, while a search is under way for year-round housing on the Vineyard.

“Ideally, what I’d look for is some type of lease situation in the short term with an eye towards having a permanent residence over here . . . that’s our ultimate goal,” he said.

The specially-trained environmental police have a wide scope of jurisdiction that sometimes supersedes that of local law enforcement. They are charged with protecting natural resources, including game, fish and wildlife through enforcement and education. Their responsibilities range from stocking ponds to monitoring boat safety and patrolling land that may be used to hunt or fish. Only environmental police can issue citations for violations of fish and wildlife regulations.

There are currently 79 environmental police officers statewide, spread among eight coastal and seven inland regions which are further divided into districts. Martha’s Vineyard is its own district and the sole responsibility of Sergeant Opie.

At the rod and gun club Wednesday, citizens and elected officials welcomed him to the Island.

“We desperately need and want environmental police help,” said Chris Kennedy, the longtime Islands superintendent for the Trustees of Reservations. “Everyone in this room is more than willing to help.”

“I just want to put it out there that we are your partner in law enforcement,” said Oak Bluffs police Lieut. Tim Williamson.

Sergeant Opie studied environmental protection and marine safety at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and worked for seven years in the Coast Guard, where he enforced boat safety and inspected commercial fishing operations around the Cape. He joined

the environmental police six years ago, doing land-based patrol in Barnstable and offshore patrols of large-scale fishing vessels from New Bedford.

In the past three weeks, he has been making rounds on the Island, introducing himself to everyone from police chiefs to tackle shop owners.

“What I want you to take out of this meeting is that I want to be here, I’m excited to be here and I hope you give me enough time to earn your respect,” he said.