Chilmark Sees Shellfish Restoration as Success

As the Chilmark shellfish department wraps up its first summer, efforts at spearheading restoration projects have been successful. Selectman Warren Doty, chairman of the board and liaison to the department, reported a low mortality rate among planted scallops and a very high production rate.

“It has been a very successful season,” he said.

To date, 100,000 scallop seed have been set to grow in an upweller, purchased by the town this spring and located in Menemsha, as well as in spat bags and pearl nets.

Pond Stock Rising

Pond Stock Rising

The late Foster Silva, longtime superintendent for The Trustees of Reservations on Chappaquiddick who loved to tell perfect strangers that he had received his degree from Katama University, had an opinion on the subject of bay scallops. Cape Pogue scallops, he said, were the sweetest. No arguments.

Success of Blue Mussel Project Heartens Fishing Advocates

For Rick Karney, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, 2008 is becoming the Year of the Blue Mussel.

In recent weeks, Mr. Karney’s group has received positive news about the prospects of raising blue mussels in local waters.

While the Island group already raises juvenile bay scallops, quahaugs and oysters for participating towns on a regular basis, the organization also is participating in a blue-mussel experiment that could expand aquaculture to the open water.

Project Would Meld Wind Power, Fish Farm

More than 15 years ago, Brian Braginton-Smith of West Yarmouth came forward with an idea to meld wind power and aquaculture in what he envisioned as an “ocean ranch.”

Mr. Braginton-Smith’s proposal was the seed for what became the controversial proposal by Cape Wind Associates to place 130 wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoal south of Cape Cod.

The visionary now has separated himself from Cape Wind, saying he is concerned about the impact such a project would have on what he sees as an environmentally fragile fishing ground.

A Quiet Leader, Warren Doty Dedicates Himself to Chilmark

When Warren Doty first moved the Vineyard in the late 1970s, the Menemsha harborfront was booming.

“Then there were five boats landing 10,000 pounds of sea scallops every three days,” he recalled. “There was a work force of ten shuckers in three different shucking shacks. That’s 30 Islanders working on the docks with about fifteen on boats. The season lasted from October to April every year. There were 45 to 50 jobs in Menemsha for six to eight months during the season.

Blue Mussel Farm Planted at Sea, Raising Hopes for Future Fishery

The Vineyard’s first experimental blue mussel farm began operating in waters off Cape Higgon in Chilmark this past week.

Two weeks ago fishermen suspended a 500-foot cable 30 feet underwater in Vineyard Sound. Last week they hung lines on the cable that were loaded with juvenile blue mussels, held to the line by a biodegradable fabric called socks.

If the project is successful, by the end of next year the mussels will be marketable.

Banner Season for Bay Scallops

Vineyard bay scallops, the Island’s biggest export this time of year, are at a premium.

Even though fishermen are coming ashore on the mainland with product, Roy Scheffer of Edgartown, a longtime commercial fisherman, said: “We have the nicest scallops. It looks like it is going to be a good Christmas.”

The price fell early in November, but it is back up now. At the market, fishermen can expect to get paid as much as $13 a pound for their shucked product. Consumers can expect to pay close to $17 a pound retail.

Experimental Mussel Farm Proposed

A bowl of steamed blue mussels is among the most valued culinary seafood dishes on the Island. Just about every restaurant that serves seafood offers the bivalve. But all of the mussels consumed on the Island comes from afar, nearly all from Canada. But in the years ahead the popular shellfish may be raised and harvested here.

Aquaculture Stimulus

Aquaculture Stimulus

We have seen the future and this is it: American oysters, bay scallops, blue mussels, quahaugs and softshell clams, thriving by the thousands in natural nurseries that are the coastal ponds and embayments of the Vineyard. The nurseries are aided by the able work of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, which grows millions of seed shellfish and provides them to the towns for sowing — both in the wild and in saltwater farms tended by entrepreneurial fishermen.

Bottom Grants for Blue Mussels

The Chilmark selectmen will award bottom grants next month for 15 acres of north shore water to shellfishermen who want to grow blue mussels in Vineyard Sound.

The selectmen will hold a public hearing on the grants on Oct. 5. The current site has been used for an experimental mussel program supported by the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, the Chilmark shellfish committee and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.

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