Tisbury nets revised shellfish regulations

The Tisbury selectmen approved all but one of eight amendments and additions to the town’s shellfish regulations following a public hearing during their meeting Tuesday night.

Although the selectmen agreed with shellfish constable Danielle Ewart’s recommendation to limit the purchase of commercial permits from January 1 to March 31, they referred the proposed amendment back to the shellfish advisory committee (SAC) for the addition of a “hardship clause.”

The selectmen’s decision followed a suggestion made by Tashmoo management committee member Lynne Fraker to add a provision to allow an exception for someone who might be unable to purchase a permit at the designated time because of illness or unemployment. Selectman Tristan Israel said a hardship clause would have to be well-defined to prevent abuse.

An amendment to reduce the family permit limit from one to one-half bushel of soft-shell clams and quahogs combined, per week, generated the most discussion. The general consensus was that the limit still amounts to a lot of shellfish for a family, and that it prevents waste and conserves the resource.

Among the approved regulation changes, Ms. Ewart now has the authority to close off areas to shellfishing where there is an abundance of scallop seed to protect it. The commercial permit fee will be increased from $300 to $350. Quahog and clam dredging or jetting in Lake Tashmoo and Lagoon Pond is now prohibited.

Scallop season

Ms. Ewart announced that Tisbury’s scallop season opens October 16 for family/recreational scalloping and on October 18 for commercial scalloping in all waters outside the ponds. The Tisbury side of Lagoon Pond opens to family/recreational scalloping on October 30 and to commercial harvesting on November 1. The SAC did not vote to open Lake Tashmoo to scalloping this season, Ms. Ewart said in a phone call yesterday.

Other business

In the town administrator’s report, John Bugbee gave Tisbury high marks for emergency preparations in a post-Hurricane Earl assessment. On the minus side, Mr. Bugbee said, although Dukes County’s new Code Red public notification system served as a valuable tool, people were confused when the communications center called them with one message and Tisbury issued a different one. “We need to go back to the drawing board,” he said.

“A lot of it is timing,” selectman Geoghan Coogan said, noting that the first county-wide call went out too early and caused panic. Mr. Kristal said his objection to the Code Red system was that there was no follow-up call to inform people when restrictions were lifted.

Mr. Israel said he thought there should be a general call sent out Island-wide, but that either the selectmen chairmen or town administrators should make decisions for their towns. Mr. Bugbee said he is still trying to find out who has the legal authority to close roads.

In department reports, harbormaster Jay Wilbur said he had an incredibly busy summer season, as evidenced by an increase of about $12,000 in revenues.

The selectmen approved director of public works Fred LaPiana’s request for $2,000 from the town’s transfer station account to hire a consultant to complete a proposal to haul Island trash by rail from New Bedford to a disposal facility.

The selectmen also agreed to Chief Hanavan’s request that the town sponsor special police officers Derek Back and Ryan Natichione to attend the state police academy, at their own expense. Mr. Coogan said both deserve recognition for maintaining a visible and positive presence on Main Street.

Fire Chief John Schilling announced that Capt. Mike Carroll resigned from the Tisbury Fire Department after 47-plus years of service. The department will formally recognize his retirement at a later date.

In other business, the selectmen voted to accept the Dukes County fuel oil bid from R. M. Packer Co. for 52 cents above the Boston benchmark price. They also approved approximately $15,000 in change orders for the emergency service facility building; a building permit application for electrical and interior work on the Spring Building restoration project; and a community development block grant application.

Now that summer’s over, the Tisbury selectmen changed their meeting place back to town hall in the Katharine Cornell Theatre. During the hot weather they met at the senior center because it is air-conditioned.

The selectmen’s meetings take place at 5 pm on Tuesday every other week. The next meeting is October 5. Agendas are posted online at www.tisburyma.gov by 4 pm the preceding Friday.