Menemsha Fish House — one of the Island’s largest wholesale seafood distributors — has been shut down by its parent company, the owners confirmed Monday, as the pandemic continues to churn up rough waters for Vineyard fishermen and decimate the region’s seafood industry.

Nestled among Menemsha’s historic, salt-crusted Dutcher Dock fish shacks, the fish house has been a division of the independent, Boston-based seafood wholesaler Red’s Best since 2010, buying and selling hauls from approximately 100 local Island fishermen and a handful of other regional anglers who land their catch in Menemsha.

The business, which is the only seafood wholesaler in Menemsha and normally operates year-round, shut down in late March when seafood restaurants closed at the onset of the pandemic. The distributor eventually reopened in a more limited capacity this summer, as catches increased and restaurant demand rose.

But with the season ending, former operator Peter Lambos and Red’s Best owner Jared Auerbach said the economics of the wholesale market became impossible, forcing Red’s Best to officially close the business at the beginning of October.

“[Red’s Best] is providing a service to commercial fishermen, and we take that responsibility very seriously, so we felt an obligation to be there and support people during the fishing season,” Mr. Auerbach said. “But it was not a good business environment. When the season wound down, we had to close.”

Mr. Auerbach said the impact of the pandemic on the restaurant business had a cascading effect on the entire seafood industry, hurting prices and hollowing out demand for fresh seafood. Red’s Best, which has wholesale locations on the Boston Harbor, as well as New Bedford and Chatham, laid off a large portion of its staff when the pandemic began. But after restarting this summer, the Menemsha Fish House location is the only Red’s Best location that has officially shut its doors; the other three remain operational.

“The [Menemsha Fish House] facility was built to be able to expand our purchasing, and be able to process and sell to restaurants,” Mr. Auerbach explained. “With the pandemic, the restaurant business fell off a cliff for us.”

(The Fish House restaurant located near the airport, was affiliated with the Menemsha Fish House during its first year in 2018 but is now independently operated.)

The fish house property, a tiny parcel of land located midway up the Dutcher Dock, is owned by the town of Chilmark and leased to business partners Alec Gale and Timothy Broderick, according to town assessors’ records. Red’s Best owns the small building, Mr. Auerbach said, which was recently renovated to include a loft office and a commercial freezer for storage.

The building and property is commercially zoned as working waterfront and leased with the specific intended use of seafood wholesaling, according to Mr. Lambos.

Mr. Gale was not immediately available for comment Monday.

In 2018, Mr. Lambos said of the Island’s 28 licensed seafood distributors, the Menemsha Fish House was responsible for wholesaling approximately 27 per cent of the catch, including 96 per cent of its scup, 88 per cent of its sea bass, around 70 per cent of the Island’s fluke and 50 per cent of its striped bass. The distributor also bought and sold lobster and hard-shell clams, and serviced about 45 per cent of the Island’s approximately 250 commercial fishermen.

“The closure definitely puts a huge dent,” Mr. Lambos said. “We bought everything that came through the door. We weren’t like, all right, our case is full right now, we can’t buy anything. The purge valve wasn’t an option. It was the whole part.”

Unlike other licensed Island distributors, like independent oystermen or The Net Result in Vineyard Haven, the Menemsha Fish House operated on a larger, industry-wide scale. Fishermen who landed catch on the Island could offload almost any species at the shack, which would then try to sell as much as it could to Island restaurants before distributing the rest to Boston through Red’s Best. The connection with Red’s Best also allowed the fish house to bring certain less prevalent species to the Island for distribution, like salmon.

But Mr. Lambos said this summer was particularly difficult, with catch numbers way down for fishermen and the expenses of distributing seafood off-Island onerous. Whereas in normal years the fish house employed up to seven people during the summer, it was down to two this year.

“We were barely keeping our head above water during busy time,” he said. “And then we got to the shoulder season, and the expenses . . . it cost $1,000 just to get the product off-Island.”

Island fishermen do have other options for off-loading their catch, including taking it to the mainland themselves or selling directly to other outlets. But transporting the catch off-Island involves added time, expense and equipment, as well as inconvenience, Mr. Lambos said. The fish house also had personal relationships with Island fishermen who preferred dealing individually with the wholesaler, buying everything from half a million farmed Island oysters in 2018 to thousands of pounds of fresh tuna that was landed in Chilmark.

“Having that large-scale, wholesale business on the Island is crucial to the Island fishing industry and its history,” Mr. Lambos said. “It’s small-boat [fishermen]. It’s basically all owner operated. It’s families. And you know, you got to be able to see it. I like to joke that we’re like the Plimoth Plantation, with people coming by and watching us unload the fish, modeling the industry.”

Mr. Auerbach said despite the closure, Red’s Best has no intention to leave Island fishermen high and dry come spring. And Mr. Lambos said that Red’s Best was currently working with the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust — a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the Island fishing industry and the historic Menemsha fishing village — to fill the void left by the fish house’s closing.

“There will be options for fishermen to sell fish in Menemsha going forward,” Mr. Auerbach said. “We’ll find a way to not leave any fishermen stranded.”