Fishermen, Regulators Brace for Spring Herring Moratorium

Fishermen, Regulators Brace for Spring Herring Moratorium

By MARK ALAN LOVEWELL

Alewives, one of the great harbingers of spring, have returned to Vineyard waters.

But there is a crucial difference this year: the state of Massachusetts has barred people from catching or possessing these anadramous fish, which return from the ocean to spawn in freshwater ponds.

Last Draggers in Menemsha

Last Draggers in Menemsha

The Quitsa Strider II sits rusting at the dock in Menemsha. Her skipper Jonathan Mayhew, who has devoted his life to commercial fishing, has sold his days at sea. A Gloucester fishing cooperative has bought the permits that allow him to fish in federal waters.

Owner of Quitsa Strider in Menemsha Sells His Fishing Rights, Ending an Era

One of Menemsha’s most respected fishermen, Jonathan Mayhew, has quit fishing the high seas.

Mr. Mayhew recently sold his federal permits, giving up his license to ply the offshore waters of Georges Bank for cod, flounder and other fish.

A Vineyard native who grew up in a family of generations of fishermen, Mr. Mayhew, 56, said a chapter has closed in his life. He said he worries now for the future of young local fishermen facing current fishing rules.

The changes that have come down are killing the fisherman and not necessarily saving fish, he said.

Fishing Group Takes Stand Against Yo-Yoing

Yo-yoing, a fishing technique commonly used by commercial striped bass fishermen in Massachusetts and elsewhere, should be outlawed, according to Brad Burns, president of Stripers Forever, a national nonprofit organization that advocates treating striped bass as a game fish in state waters.

Keeping Bay Scallops in the Crib Longer Is Easy on Budget, Good for Town Fishery

For Edgartown shellfishermen, it would be unconscionable to have an autumn and winter without fishing for and harvesting bay scallops. On Cape Cod and Long Island, however, the scallops have all but disappeared.

Warren Gaines, deputy shellfish constable for Edgartown, has spent the past two summers making sure the bay scallop fishery in town remains healthy and viable. His expanding efforts follow a bit of a scare when, for at least a decade, bay scallop landings from Cape Pogue Pond haven’t been up to waterfront expectations.

The Fishermen

By MARK ALAN LOVEWELL

THE MOST IMPORTANT FISH IN THE SEA, by H. Bruce Franklin. Island Press / Shearwater Books, Washington, 2007, 266 pages.

Eleven years ago, a group of Island fishermen went to Sandwich to attend a public hearing on the management of striped bass. We all sat in an overcrowded auditorium and listened. One commercial lobsterman stood before the regulators and complained too many striped bass were eating his lobsters and ruining his fishery.

President Requests States Give Striped Bass Game Fish Status

An American president rarely speaks on a fisheries issue, but George W. Bush did so two weeks ago.

President Bush recently came out with an executive order directing the National Marine Fisheries Service to prohibit the commercial harvesting of striped bass and red drum in federal waters. A moratorium already is in place on the catching of striped bass in federal offshore waters for all commercial and recreational fishermen, so nothing changes.

Bay Scallop Season Opens Across Island With Predictions for a Decent Harvest

Early reports indicate a solid but not spectacular bay scalloping season on the Island this year, and shellfish constables report a healthy crop of seed for next year’s harvest.

Commercial scallopers are enjoying early success outside town harbors in Edgartown, Vineyard Haven, Chilmark and Oak Bluffs, and near-record opening prices of $18 per pound for their catch.

Shellfish constables are not expecting a banner year on the ponds.

Federal Moves Push Prices For Fishermen’s Fuel Above $3

For the second week in a row, Chilmark selectmen on Tuesday addressed the continuing struggles of commercial fishermen on the Menemsha harborfront and the state of the town fishing industry.

A number of fishermen, members of the shellfish advisory committee and the town harbor master turned out to discuss rising fuel prices and hear a plan to survey the biology of Menemsha Pond in an effort to enhance fish stock.

Fishermen Take Their Case To New England Council

Concerned the Vineyard will be locked out of participation in a restored federal fishery, a small group of Island commercial fishermen went to a meeting of the New England Fishery Management Council last month to make their plea for some part of the future pie.

Today only one Island fisherman, Gregory Mayhew of Chilmark, is permitted to pursue cod, haddock and yellowtail in federal waters.

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