State would build a public fishing pier in Oak Bluffs

State would build a public fishing pier in Oak Bluffs

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Island fishermen have often looked longingly at the Oak Bluffs Steamship Authority terminal. The structure attracts fish of all stripes, but with one exception — the Derby kids day in September — no fishing is allowed.

Fishermen could soon have their own fishing platform nearby. The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s office of fishing and boating access has proposed to construct a public fishing pier off Sea View Avenue extension.

The Oak Bluffs conservation commission (ConCom) will hold a public hearing at 4 pm, Tuesday in Oak Bluffs town hall on an application by CLE Engineering of Marion. The company has asked for several waivers designed, it said, to provide maximum accessibility and to extend the service life of the pier.

The proposed L-shaped pier would be 16 feet wide and 317 feet long. The width would provide access for wheelchairs, according to a plan submitted to the conservation commission.

The pier would be located approximately 200 feet north of the Steamship dock. At various times during the fishing season, the area holds striped bass, scup, fluke, bonito, and false albacore.

With the permission of the boatline, the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby annually hosts a one-day kids fishing derby on the Steamship dock that begins at 6 am and ends at 9 am.

In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Carlos Pena, CLE vice president, said the fishing pier is part of an overall plan for Seaview Avenue extension that includes replacement of the crumbling seawall and the construction of a boardwalk with seating that would provide an attractive pedestrian route between the SSA and the harbor, he said.

However, the two projects are not related. The pier construction could move ahead on its own while the boardwalk waits for funding. Subject to permitting, Mr. Pena said work on the pier could begin next spring.

John P. Sheppard, longtime director of fishing and boating access, has been a driving force for public access across the state.

Mr. Sheppard said providing shore fishing access has become more and more difficult. He said the proposed pier would be expensive.

Mr. Sheppard said the pier is long, but there would likely be fishermen who want it to be longer. At some point the cost can become prohibitive he said.

Mr. Sheppard, a fisherman himself, is confident the pier will be an addition to a town and Island where fishing is popular. “I figure it will get some use,” he said.