Stocks of Striped Bass Healthy, But Still the Fishermen Worry
Mike Seccombe

The striped bass is fun to catch and good to eat. It’s also enigmatic, historically prone to wild fluctuations in numbers and to inexplicable disappearances from area waters. And with the annual Island fishing derby opening Sunday, the old question is being asked again: where are all the fish?

Cooper Gilkes 3rd, an Island fisherman for more than 50 years and the owner of Coop’s Bait and Tackle in Edgartown, is concerned, for catch numbers seem to be in sharp decline.

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Ferrying Fish
Mark Alan Lovewell

Alec Gale had a great summer. With the economic engine in the country not powering, his entrepreneurship is helping to propel the Island’s oldest industry; Mr. Gale helped a number of Menemsha-based commercial fishermen make a living this summer.

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Sharing the Ocean
Mark Alan Lovewell

The most stressed-out fish of the sea, the false albacore, made an appearance a week ago. They scared the bonito away and now it seems as though both are absentee.

False albacore and bonito are among the fastest swimming fish of these waters from late August to October. They are a finicky warmer weather fish. It is hard to write a sentence about one without mentioning the other in the same paragraph.

But the prevailing northeast winds of the last few days have cut down on a lot of the boat fishing.

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Commercial Season Closes for Bluefish, Striped Bass

Two of the most popular recreational fish will soon be off limits to commercial fishermen. The commercial bluefish season ends tomorrow. The commercial striped bass season ends on Tuesday.

This is the first time Massachusetts fisheries managers are closing the commercial season on bluefish. Using landing data, the state estimates the 516,619-pound quota for bluefish in the state will be taken by tomorrow. Fish markets may carry the fish beyond the date, but it won’t be for long.

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Three Years Into Moratorium, Island Herring Runs Still Slow
Mark Alan Lovewell

Herring are harbingers of spring. The first of them usually appear in Island waters now. But there is serious concern about the health of the fishery across the region.

Although Massachusetts is in the third year of a moratorium on the harvesting of these small fish, the fishery has failed to rebound. Fishing prohibitions are also in place in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Also known as alewives and river herring, these anadromous fish make a pilgrimage every spring into coastal estuaries, to spawn in the freshwater pond where they themselves were created.

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Anonymous Donor Buys Painting for Island Museum
Sam Bungey

By SAM BUNGEY

A painting of a well-known Menemsha-based trawler by Heather Neill has been given to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum by an anonymous donor. The eight by four-foot painting, titled Strider’s Surrender, evokes the decline the local fishing industry.

The Quitsa Strider II is owned by respected Island fishermen Jonathan Mayhew. In a move symbolic of the dire state of the local fishing industry, Mr. Mayhew sold his federal permits last year, giving up his license and putting up the vessel itself for sale.

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Discarded Fishing Line Presents Lethal Tangle for Birds, Wildlife
Mark Alan Lovewell

With the fall fishing season about to begin, there is a renewed warning out to shore fishermen to be careful not to litter the landscape. Spent fish line left on the ground can be a killer to wildlife.

In July an osprey chick was killed when it got entangled in a monofilament fish line.

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Blue Mussel Test
Mark Alan Lovewell

The initial success of the Island’s offshore blue mussel aquaculture efforts could lead to real new jobs on the Vineyard, at a time when costs are up for fishermen but seafood prices are not keeping pace.

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Striper Wars Writer Talks About New Threats to Fish

Striper Wars author Dick Russell talks about efforts to save a troubled fishery, on Wednesday, August 27, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Chilmark Public Library.

When populations of striped bass began plummeting in the early 1980s, author and fisherman Dick Russell was there to lead an Atlantic coast conservation campaign that resulted in one of the most remarkable wildlife comebacks in the history of fisheries.

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Crab Blues
Mark Alan Lovewell

This has not been a good blue crab season on the Vineyard. The Edgartown Great Pond is doing poorly compared with last year and there are lackluster reports from the Island’s other coastal ponds.

But that is the story with blue crabs. Some years the fishing is great and some years it is bad. Feast or famine and nothing much between.

Blue crabs and the state of the fishery, which is largely unregulated, is the subject of a public hearing in Tisbury next month.

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