Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Regarding the Vineyard Gazette’s opinion piece from Oct. 12 titled Fatal Attraction, I must agree with the authors that we have entered a new era in which the viability of shark tournaments must be seriously reconsidered. No matter your opinion on shark tournaments in general, we need to focus on the impact that this event is having on the character of our Island, and whether or not it is a practice we want to continue to endorse. Despite the obvious economic benefits that the tournament brings to the local economy, we must seriously weigh the negative and more questionable aspects of this event.
No one can deny that the annual shark tournament, hosted by the Boston Big Game Fishing Club, benefits Martha’s Vineyard’s local economy, but due to the increased police activity, that the Gazette editorial references, we must now account for these new burdens that the Vineyard community and taxpayers have been forced to incur. However these new costs are not only monetary in nature, they take a toll also, morally and socially as well.
I would like to believe that most Martha’s Vineyard residents are progressive enough to not endorse the killing of a keystone species for sport. Seventy-five million sharks are killed globally annually; do we really want to be contributing to this statistic, in the name of sport? Regardless of species impacts, we need to reconsider the message that rowdy uprisings and machismo shark contest culture sends to our Island youth and the world. As a longtime Island resident, I believe that the ethical and moral cost to the Vineyard’s image outweighs the monetary benefits to the Island economy.
Martha’s Vineyard is a special place, one of the last beautiful places that has not been spoiled by commercial enterprises and run-amok tourism. But if we allow our Island to continue to encourage prize fishing for sharks, along with the kind of behavior displayed this past summer during the shark tournament, then we are jeopardizing the very things that make this Island unique.