With support from the Edey Foundation, the Chilmark shellfish department plans to restore vital eelgrass beds that vanished from Nashaquitsa Pond last year, possibly as a result of crab and goose foraging during the winter.

A $5,838 grant from the foundation will help pay for equipment and materials, including an underwater time-lapse camera to monitor the restored areas. Shellfish constable Isaiah Scheffer said the town would also contribute to the project, which is estimated to cost about $15,400 in the first year.

“It really comes down to doing it in a timely fashion,” Mr. Scheffer told the Gazette this week, noting how the loss of eelgrass also threatens shellfish, which depend on the aquatic plant for food and habitat. Eelgrass populations around the world have declined as a result of excess nutrients, damage from boat propellors and other causes.

The project will involve 50 metal frames covered in burlap — a slightly simpler version of efforts seen elsewhere along the coast. The town will salvage eelgrass from Menemsha Pond, where shoots often float to the surface, and thread them through the burlap to protect the roots from crabs and birds. Each frame will then be anchored to the bottom, where the roots can take hold. Any leftover shoots will be anchored under rocks between the frames. Meanwhile, bags containing seed shoots will be suspended from buoys to encourage new growth in the area.

Four sites — still undetermined as of Monday — will be off limits to boats and shellfishing during the project, which is expected to last through the summer, with continuous monitoring and a progress report planned for next January.

“My goal is to get some eelgrass roots established again, see if it’s even possible for the stuff to survive,” Mr. Scheffer said. “If it’s not, then we’ve got to try to figure out what the heck is going on.”

A state biologist last year pointed to green crabs and waterfowl as a likely cause of the decline, although Mr. Scheffer believes other factors such as disease may also have played a role. “Either way, it’s gone,” he said of the eelgrass, and the pond’s shellfish have suffered as a result.

The usual supply of scallop seed was distributed in the pond last year, but without the eelgrass, the young scallops were forced to attach to other objects on the bottom, which left them more vulnerable to predators.

“There is plenty of eelgrass in Menemsha Pond, so I think we will have an okay year,” Mr. Scheffer said of the scalloping season, which began in November. “But in Quitsa there is next to no seed.” He was sure crabs were to blame. “Once they start breaking those scallops open, that puts that scent in the water, it attracts more crabs and then it just snowballs,” he said. But he was reluctant to increase predator control, since green crabs are usually not a serious problem in the pond.

Round-the-clock monitoring may help reveal what caused the disappearance of eelgrass last year and further refine the restoration efforts. “There could be something that we just don’t even know is going on because we are just not seeing it during the day,” Mr. Scheffer said.

The proposal also calls for the formation of a longer-term group to educate the community and organize events related to Chilmark’s coastal ponds. The group would function in the manner of other pond associations on the Island.

Last year, the town voted to appropriate funding for a part-time assistant shellfish constable to help manage the project. Interviews for the position are scheduled for March 10. Construction of the metal frames could begin as soon as April, with deployment from May to September.