On a blustery November day, in choppy waters somewhere off the western shore of the Island, Capt. Otto Osmers winched in his first conch pot of the day. At its peak in 2011, 1.4 million pounds of conch were harvested in Dukes County, with a monetary value of over $3 million.


I was anticipating that they (the DMF) had recognized and acknowledged that there are some serious issues that need to be addressed in both the whelk and the striped bass fisheries.
On Tuesday, the state Division of Marine Fisheries held a public hearing in Vineyard Haven. Discussions centered around commercial fishing season length, reducing fishing days, bag limits, bass tagging systems, and stricter licensing rules for conch fishermen.
Changes under consideration by the Division of Marine Fisheries include an extended commercial season for striped bass, smaller daily limits and a rule barring charter fishermen from selling their catch commercially.


Buddy Vanderhoop Jim Wilson fisherman

State fisheries officials have warned Vineyard conch fishermen that if significant conservation measures aren’t taken soon, the Island’s biggest fishery will collapse and be difficult to restore. After meeting last Friday with the state officials, a number of local fishermen said the conch fishery is in serious trouble and the state can’t act fast enough.


Shelley Edmundson

Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, conch is the most valuable resource landed at the dock on the Vineyard in the summer. It is a huge, unsung fishery that draws little attention. One reason for this is almost no one on Martha’s Vineyard eats conch. Nearly all the conch is shipped to the mainland.

Nevertheless, it is a profitable business, more profitable than the lobster or bay scallop fishery. According to state figures, one million pounds of conch were landed on the Vineyard last year, nearly half of the 2.4 million pounds landed statewide.