Fishermen harmed by multiplying rules
To the Editor:
The shellfish warden and shellfish committee have made it hard for Tisbury commercial fishermen to make a living without being harassed by a new regulation every week. By the warden's and shellfish committee's own admission (November 2011 selectmen's meeting): We want to make access to the pond difficult to slow down the pressure on the pond.
Some of the new rules: 1) You must buy your license by March of each year or else subject yourself to a hardship hearing. Can the committee refuse you? The pond's shellfish stock regulates on its own how many people participate. 2) A boat may only have two commercial permits in the boat and can only go once a day. That means a family of four has to build another boat, all to stop access to the pond. That's not the Island I grew up on. 3) No assisting or transferring of shellfish from one permit to another. So, if your fellow fisherman's hauling motor or outboard motor breaks, no one can help you finish out the day to help with the expenses, or if your culling board is half full they don't want you to give them to the guy next to you. I have to throw them back so the other fisherman has to fire up his equipment to catch the same scallops. Is it transferring of shellfish if a boat lands two commercial limits allowed by law, but the owner of the vessel takes a portion of the other fisherman's catch for taking him each day? The committee wants you to be moving while you are culling your catch.
The bait was set for the last bylaw made. Certain committee members seem to have a big influence on what goes before the board. One of us mentioned putting a couple of dredges side by side to a certain member of the shellfish committee, lo and behold it was on the next town meeting agenda. No Gang Dredging! He took hook, line, and sinker.
When I attend shellfish meetings, there is no one on the board who can look me in the eye and say their primary job is commercial fishing. Who represents us?
The warden and committee have to be 50 percent for the pond and 50 percent for Tisbury residents. The warden calls the shellfish in town her babies, but they're everybody's babies. They stopped residents from fishing on Thanksgiving and Christmas, which has always been an option of some but tradition for others. Just to let you know what we have to deal with, the warden watched a commercial fisherman clamming until he filled his basket. The warden then approached the fisherman and told him it was a residential area only and made him dump them out for the seagulls. Any other warden I know would have stopped him immediately or would have warned him of this situation and let him take the clams the fisherman had already dug.
If you want respect, you have to give respect. Past Tashmoo Pond scallop season was dip-netting only, but the warden allowed snorkeling commercially, which is against the rules. So when I buy a 7 mm wetsuit to go in the Lagoon and I am stopped by the warden and contest it, I will be called a bully.
The seven- by 22-mile Island I grew up on was run with more common sense than personal agendas. We all have to show each other more respect.