winter flounder John Armstrong

The good news began in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, when 68 flapping fish were delivered to the Wampanoag Tribe’s hatchery in Aquinnah near the edge of Menemsha Pond. The adult winter flounder had just been caught earlier Tuesday by Greg Mayhew and his son, Todd, in the Menemsha fishing dragger Unicorn. The hatchery hopes to raise over 50,000 juvenile winter flounder this spring. Later in the year they’ll be released into Menemsha and Lagoon Ponds.


shellfish hatchery Bret Stearns Warren Doty

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has agreed to lease its shellfish hatchery on the shore of Menemsha Pond to the Martha’s Vineyard/Dukes County Fishermen’s Association for $100 to raise winter flounder. The partnership is part of a federally funded two-year $308,000 National Sea Grant project to find ways to restore one of the most troubled fish resources in Southern New England.

Plans are under way to raise 50,000 juvenile winter flounder in Vineyard waters next year. The work on the two-year $308,000 National Sea Grant project has already begun but the biggest hurdle won’t happen for another year.

Aquaculture expert Dr. Elizabeth A. Fairchild, the Assistant Research Professor from the University of New Hampshire, will report on the Martha’s Vineyard winter flounder stock enhancement project on Thursday, March 17 at 5 p.m. at the Chilmark Public Library.

Dr. Fairchild is assisting a group of 25 Island fishermen and aquaculturists in a project involving Lagoon Pond and Menemsha Pond. The group plans to spawn and grow 50,000 juvenile flounder in Island hatcheries for release into the two ponds. The two-year project began in November.


Winter flounder, once abundant in Vineyard waters, is on the verge of collapse. And now a group of Islanders, with help from the University of New Hampshire, have received a federal grant to try and raise the fish at a local hatchery and release them into Lagoon and Menemsha Ponds.


winter flounder

Island fish, like Island tourists, come and go with the seasons. Striped bass, bluefish, false albacore, bonito and scup and summer flounder all migrate.

Yet there is one species of fish that once were caught here year-round. Winter flounder stayed in Island waters through the changing seasons.

Next week the Chilmark Public Library is hosting a forum with a top New England authority on the raising of juvenile winter flounder.