Tisbury will air proposed changes to town shellfish regulations

Tisbury will air proposed changes to town shellfish regulations

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Tisbury selectmen will hold a public hearing Tuesday afternoon to consider proposed changes to the town’s shellfish regulations that include measures to reduce catch limits and protect seed, or juvenile, bay scallops.

Shellfish constable Danielle Ewart has proposed eight changes or additions. These include a reduction in the family permit limit from one to one-half bushel of soft-shell clams and quahogs combined, per week, in an effort to conserve shellfish and prevent waste, she said.

During the high-value bay scallop season, fishermen use metal drags to haul up scallops. Small juvenile scallops known as seed must be thrown back. In the course of a season the process may be repeated over and over again within the confines of Lagoon Pond.

Ms. Ewart has also asked for the authority to close off areas to shellfishing where there is an abundance of scallop seed, so that it can grow undisturbed.

Proposed amendments would raise the commercial fee from $300 to $350 and limit the purchase of commercial permits from January 1 through March 31.

In 2009, the town’s 24 licensed commercial fishermen received a good return on their investment. The value of Tisbury’s 2009 scallop harvest, a total of 785 bushels, was estimated at $82,425, according to the 2009 town report.

Tisbury’s shellfish department’s fiscal year 2011 operating budget includes $71,876 for salaries and $8,700 for department expenses. The budget included $30,000 for Tisbury’s share in the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group.

The town’s shellfish trust, which funds department expenses, receives 75 percent of its revenue from the sale of shellfish permits.

In calendar year 2009, the town sold 281 family permits, 206 senior citizen permits, 19 non-resident family permits,149 short-term recreational permits and 24 commercial permits. The sale of permits raised $28,290.

The cost of a senior shellfish license is $5. A family permit costs $40 and a non-resident permit is $400.

The town’s shellfish advisory committee has unanimously approved the proposed changes.

The hearing begins at 5:15 pm in Tisbury town hall.