The annual Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament was back on the hot seat Tuesday, with a state shark biologist giving selectmen a scientific point of view of the tournament, which he said data now shows is largely catch-and-release. Though a local group has petitioned for changes to tournament regulations, the board declined to take any action.

The Boston Big Game Fishing Club has hosted the Monster Shark Tournament in Oak Bluffs every July for the last 25 years, with prizes awarded to those who catch the largest sharks. The tournament has been the subject of controversy in the past, with animal rights groups protesting the event, including the hanging of dead sharks in the harbor.

In November, a local group, Vineyarders against Shark Tournaments, asked the selectmen to consider new “Shark-Free Marina” policies that would discourage fishermen from bringing dead sharks back to the docks, while potentially still allowing a catch-and-release tournament.

On Tuesday, at the board’s request, senior state shark biologist Gregory Skomal presented data showing that in 2011, 98 per cent of the roughly 1,250 sharks caught at the tournament were released back into the water. Usually such sharks are released because of their small size.

While there are shark populations that are “severely depleted,” Mr. Skomal said, the shark species caught during the tournament are not protected. Some shark species, such as great whites, are off-limits during the tournament.

According to Mr. Skomal’s data, of 24,840 sharks landed in the tournament since 1987, 93 per cent have been blue sharks and 5 per cent mako sharks. Smaller numbers of thresher, porbeagle, and dusky sharks have also been caught, he said. The tournament has a minimum weight limit for sharks to qualify to be weighed in.

Mr. Skomal said he didn’t have firm figures about post-release mortality rates for sharks, but that blue sharks are an “incredibly hardy” species and are most likely to survive after being caught, though survival can be affected by the type of hooks used to catch the sharks. Circle hooks, he said, are least harmful to sharks that are caught and released.

In all, he said, the tournament has a negligible impact on shark species, and less than 5 percent of shark landings in the Atlantic Ocean are in the United States.

“The question here is probably more philosophical than conservation-based,” Mr. Skomal said.

Mr. Skomal said that while he no longer uses scientific data from autopsies and analyses of sharks caught at the tournament, other organizations do get information from sharks caught at the tournament.

“I don’t think the science should be used to justify a competitive fishing event,” he said.

Selectman Greg Coogan said he focuses on the economic impact to the town and any potential environmental damage when thinking about the tournament.

“I don’t think any of us want to do damage to the overall shark population in the world.” He noted that the tournament is popular, though he doesn’t have a personal interest in the event. For him, “The only thing [the tournament] does is make it harder to get a Coca Cola at Our Market,” he said.

One issue the board said it would further investigate is who owns property where the shark weigh-in takes place. In the past, the property was said to be privately-owned. But Sally Apy, a member of Vineyarders against Shark Tournaments, said she’s found assessors maps that indicate the event takes place on town-owned land.

Selectman chair Kathy Burton said she would refer that question to town counsel.

Ms. Burton said that in 2007, a town referendum about whether Oak Bluffs should allow the use of town property for shark tournament events was passed, 458-386, in favor of the tournament. “This is my guiding principle,” she said.

“It looks to me this is pretty much catch-and-release as it is,” selectman Walter Vail said, referencing the data Mr. Skomal presented.

In other business, the selectmen approved the leasing of two handheld, computerized parking ticket units, which would make Oak Bluffs the first Island town to use the new devices. The units would be purchased by the county and leased to the town, said Martha’s Vineyard parking clerk Carol M. Grant, at the cost of $250 a month. The town would lease two units for about four and a half months, at a total cost of about $2,300.

Police chief Erik Blake told the selectmen that with the handheld units, the police would be able to issue more parking tickets, which would make up for the expenditure. The advantage of the computerized units, he said, is that fewer tickets would come back improperly filled out, clerks would be able to issue more tickets in less time and parking clerks would not have to manually enter parking tickets into a database.

The tickets would be printed out from the handheld device, he said, with the information going to a hard drive.

Since last July, the town has issued 1,436 tickets, bringing in $33,915, Ms. Grant said. In fiscal year 2011, she said, 1,987 tickets were issued.

The selectmen briefly discussed the fate of Corey Kupersmith’s South Wood Farms development, which will go up for a foreclosure auction on April 19. Selectman Gail Barmakian suggested that there should be an investigation into whether the town has any interest in the property.

“It’s something we ought to be aware of,” Mr. Vail said, while Ms. Burton said that with the auction about three weeks away, the town has little time to take any action.

Ewell Hopkins, executive director of the Island Housing Trust, pressed the selectmen to look into building affordable housing on nearby land in the Southern Woodlands, acquired by the town in a land swap with the Land Bank in 2004. He volunteered to assist the selectmen with that issue, as well as looking at environmental concerns for the property and whether the town has any interest in purchasing the foreclosed property for affordable housing.

The issue might be discussed at an Affordable Housing Committee meeting April 5.

The selectmen also heard preliminary reports for a new, five-year plan for the harbor, which is “the lifeblood of our community,” said John Breckenridge, chair of the harbor management committee. Priorities include replacing harbor jetties, which are in a “failed state,” Mr. Breckenridge said, and adding a fueling facility at the harbor.

The selectmen also approved a new business, “Bite on the Go,” which will be open for take-out breakfasts and lunches, and appointed Les Woodcock to the council on aging board of directors.