Editorial: Fishy business

Editorial: Fishy business

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Our colleague, Nelson Sigelman, has transcended mere angler status. This week, the custodians of the venerable Martha’s Vineyard Bass and Bluefish Derby have acknowledged something that we at The Times have known for years, namely that Nelson is not your run-of-the-beach fisherman. The Derby has made a place for him in its Hall of Fame. We’re very proud.

Nelson immigrated to the Vineyard to fish. To keep himself in lures and waders, he sold advertising for the newspaper in the late 1980s, moved on to reporter, columnist, and now managing editor. But, whether he was wandering the beach at Cape Pogue Gut or at Lobsterville, jigging for squid at Memorial Wharf or at Menemsha, whether he caught anything at all, he has always reeled in good stories.

Prowling the moonlit beaches, he met, heard, and then told the sometimes astonishing histories of the varied assortment of fishing men and women. Apart from the unique attributes of any one of them, for each the Derby and a day of fishing were, successful or not, similar to the keys that unlocked the boxes that held the Derby prizes on Sunday. Each angler, each time he fished, got something valuable from the effort. Nelson did too, as did our readers in their turn.

Nelson told the Derby fishermen gathered Sunday for the awards ceremony that he doesn’t fish as hard today as he once did. Maybe, but he casts his line relentlessly to harvest the fish tales and the whoppers that populate his Gone Fishin’ column, itself a Hall of Fame fisherman’s remarkable record.

Just so you get the message

Tuesday, the Steamship Authority members were busy unanimously adopting next year’s budget and next year’s boat schedules. They also agreed to move their Vineyard reservations office to a new space.

The boatline must relinquish the leased space in which for years they’ve housed the Vineyard reservations office. The reservations office is an expensive service, only used on a typical day by about 16 auto reservation seekers. The price tag is about $370,000, of which $340,000 goes to wages and benefits. If they shut down the Vineyard office, the boatline would need to shift some of that cost to expand operations in Mashpee, the line’s chief reservation bureau. Still there would be a substantial savings, something like $200,000.

But the members have decided, in response to a modest outcry from Vineyarders — although it defies what would commonly be regarded as good business sense — to lease some new space in the airport terminal building and shift the reservation bureau there. There won’t be any savings at all. The vote was unanimous.

Robert Marshall, the Falmouth member and now the chairman of the Authority, hasn’t been an enthusiast for continuing the service. He’d like to save the money, or he’d like us to think he would, and Tuesday, Mr. Marshall, while voting yes, wanted the assembled, particularly the Vineyarders on hand, to know, in case they intended to criticize Steamship Authority spending habits in the future, that the $200,000 savings the members were foregoing was actually a “non-revenue producing accommodation.”

And, making that accommodation, Mr. Marshall suggested, is on us. Don’t be complaining the next time fares rise.