The elimination of several key advisory committees in Tisbury, including the shellfish committee, has caught some townspeople unawares — including members of the committees themselves.

Last month the Tisbury selectmen opted to not reappoint members of the shellfish committee, dredge committee, harbor management committee, and Department of Public Works advisory board, whose terms had expired.

Selectman and board chairman Melinda Loberg said the town plans instead to form a single natural resources committee to replace the groups being eliminated. She said the town hopes to eventually hire a natural resources director using funds allocated at next spring’s annual town meeting.

“We felt our natural resources have remained a main thing in town we need to manage, and we didn’t have one person who was overseeing that,” Mrs. Loberg said. “We want these people talking in the same room with each other.”

The new committee will oversee all natural resources in the town both on land and in water and advise the natural resources director. Mrs. Loberg said the change will allow for more coordination of efforts and is modeled after other Massachusetts towns.

A notification letter that went out about the changes said they have been in the works since 2015. But some committee members said they did not know what was coming.

“It took us all by surprise,” said Noah Mayrand, a Tisbury shellfish committee member who was appointed in January.

He said committee members are unclear about how their work will get done now that they have been disbanded.

“There’s actual things in shellfishing rules in the town, like if people claim hardship and want to get a shellfish license, you’re supposed to go to us, the advisory board, and present your hardship and reasoning. And then we’re supposed to approve or disapprove,” Mr. Mayrand said. “It’s written in the rules that way, and so now we don’t really know what will happen.”

Mr. Mayrand said the committee also had been working on adjusting the regulations to allow commercial fishermen to mentor young people. That project was left unfinished.

“We were drafting the legal language for it,” Mr. Mayrand said. “That just kind of got started.”

John Kollett, a member of the shellfish committee for three years, said he does not intend to volunteer for town government again. He said he did not see how a single committee will manage shellfish, dredging, and harbor management among other responsibilities.

“I’ve been asked by several people to go on the new [natural resources] committee, but I don’t want to sit in a three hour or four-hour meeting. I just don’t see it happening with a group that big,” Mr. Kollett said.

Shellfish committee member Ray Lincoln echoed similar concerns.

“I’m disappointed I would say because the people on that committee were pretty passionate about saving the shellfish in the waterways,” he said.

Harriet Barrow, who has served on a number of committees in Tisbury, including the waterways committee and most recently the Tashmoo Spring building preservation committee, which has also been eliminated, also questioned the decision.

“I wonder why after so many dedicated volunteers had worked so long and hard for the town, why the town thought it was in anyone’s best interest to dissolve these committees,” she said.

Others see the advantage of consolidation. Jeffrey Canha, a former member of the waterways and harbor management committees, told selectmen earlier this month he supports the idea.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” he said. “Just like you’re getting a professional report from your chief of police, you’re getting a professional report from the fire chief, you’ll also be getting a professional report update . . . from your natural resources officer. And that’s been the biggest problem in this town is communication from the committee level to your table.”

The new natural resources committee is likely to be appointed before the town is able to hire a natural resources director. Mrs. Loberg said choosing not to reappoint the committees starting this summer means this issue will remain a priority.

“It kind of forces us to keep working on this,” she said.