To the Editor:
The Times Fishing Report column of June 20 featured a discussion of the state fishing pier in Oak Bluffs. We are very fortunate to have that pier.
The Fishing and Boating Access Division of the state Fish and Game Department has many responsibilities, one of which is the charge to promote fishing access. When Fish and Game was contacted in 2007 with the proposal to construct a pier in Oak Bluffs, a seven-year project was undertaken. Fortunately, the project got off to a good start with support from the Oak Bluffs selectmen, but that was only the beginning.
Permits, design, and funding were major obstacles, with funding perhaps the most difficult. The article notes that the pier was paid for with money from the saltwater permit fee program, but that is only partially correct. Funds are appropriated to Fish and Game to support everything they do, including not only maintenance of facilities but also capital projects such as piers, docks, and boat-launch facilities. Typically they take on major projects once every few years, but few projects of this size. The money generated from fees would not cover very much of these activities, especially the cost of the pier.
The fishing pier was initially funded by a regular budget appropriation, and following a winter storm that caused damage to the SSA pier, a redesign adding several feet to the height of the pier was funded by the fee program. In the end, the pier was funded by $852,500 in state funds and $188,134 in saltwater license funds. This was the first project to be funded with saltwater license fees. The support we received from our elected officials at the state level to fund this project was critical to its success.