People call it the solar hatchery or the shellfish hatchery, but going forward the facility on Lagoon Pond that has spawned a valuable shellfish industry on Martha’s Vineyard will be known as the Richard C. Karney Solar Hatchery.

The board of directors of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group voted to name the facility after Mr. Karney and surprised him with the honor at the annual shellfish extravaganza at the Chilmark Community Center Saturday evening.

Annual shellfish extravaganza is fundraiser for nonprofit shellfish group. — Steve Myrick

Mr. Karney announced his retirement this past November, though he still works part time at the newly-named hatchery. Standing near tables full of oysters and clams he helped propagate, Mr. Karney offered thanks to the large crowd that attended the annual celebration of shellfish.

“I think it’s so cool that shellfish are part of the community and that I helped keep it part of the community,” Mr. Karney said. “I can step back. I feel confident that what I tried to start is going to continue.”

Mr. Karney’s groundbreaking work helped keep the shellfish industry vibrant on Martha’s Vineyard, and he has also helped the people who continue his work.

“He’s been a mentor for 17 years,” said Amandine Surier, who along with another of Mr. Karney’s longtime assistants, Emma Green-Beach, are now running the hatchery. “I’m very happy and proud to carry on his legacy at the shellfish hatchery.”

“I was his first intern back in 1977,” said David Grunden, now the Oak Bluffs shellfish constable. “This Island might not have the shellfish industry it has without Rick.”

Mr. Karney served for more than 40 years as executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group. The nonprofit organization regional program funded by the six Island towns manages propagation of oysters, bay scallops and clams in Vineyard waters.