Bay scallopers in Chilmark are being asked to concentrate on Nashaquitsa Pond until early next month in order to make the most efficient use of a healthy crop of scallops this year.
The Chilmark selectmen voted Tuesday to close Menemsha Pond to scalloping from Nov. 21 through Dec. 3, and increase the daily commercial limit in Quitsa to three struck bushels, up from two heaping bushels. The selectmen also agreed to open the area outside of Chocker’s Creek from the eastern buoy, defining the closed area to the town line beginning Nov. 21.
The closure was recommended by the shellfish constable under a plan devised with the participation of the commercial fishermen.
Shellfish constable Isaiah Scheffer said closing Menemsha Pond will be useful “in order to get the remaining population of scallops out of Quitsa so we’re not left with a bunch of small scallops at the end of the season when the demand goes down.”
Mr. Scheffer said the scallops “look good, really good.”
Selectman Warren Doty commended the commercial fishermen for developing the management plan on their own.
“It was interesting that the fishermen themselves led by Matt Mayhew came up with this proposal to leave the most prolific areas still closed for another period of time as a conservation measure, but also to increase the limit so we get a few more scallops out of Quitsa Pond,” Mr. Doty said. “There were 20 scallopers in the room for this meeting and it was a unanimous agreement. I think that’s amazing.”
Mr. Scheffer said between commercial and recreational scallopers, 875 bushels have been harvested, already passing last year’s record at this time. About 18 people a day are out scalloping, he said.
In other shellfish news, the selectmen authorized the town shellfish department to lead a joint project with West Tisbury and The Nature Conservancy on a shell reef restoration program. The Nature Conservancy is looking for funding to take clean shells from off-Island and create a reef in the Tisbury Great Pond. The reef would gather oyster spat and oyster seed.
In other business, town executive secretary Tim Carroll reported that the U.S. Coast Guard plans to hold a town hall-style meeting in mid-December to unveil and discuss the latest design plans for the new boathouse in Menemsha. Construction is expected to begin in March. Mr. Carroll said the height of the building has been reduced somewhat from the original plan presented to the town last year. The size, scale and height of the building has been a sticking point for the town selectmen and historic commission.
The Coast Guard awarded a bid for a new 5,000 square-foot building to M.A. Mortenson Co. of Minnesota in October. Mr. Carroll said the contractor intends to use Vineyard subcontractors for some of the work.
The building will replace the historic boathouse that was lost in the July 2010 fire at Menemsha.