Fishermen weigh in on Lake Street landing fuel regs

Members of Tisbury’s Tashmoo Management (TMC) and Harbor Management (HMC) committees met Tuesday and prepared a set of draft regulations that would allow a commercial fuel dealer to fuel commercial vessels at the Lake Street dock at Tashmoo.

Both committees had originally recommended no fueling be allowed, but they were overruled by the selectmen, who sent them and the commercial mariners back to the drawing board.

A group of commercial fishermen, organized as Commercial Fishermen in Tisbury, led by chairman Jeffrey Canha, packed a small meeting room at the Tisbury Senior Center. Tisbury harbormaster Jay Wilbur and shellfish constable Danielle Ewart also attended.

For several years, Jay McMann of Island Fuel, who also attended the meeting, has delivered fuel at the dock.

Using a set of regulations drafted by TMC chairman Melinda Loberg as a starting point, the committee members and fishermen hashed out the specifics. Sticking points included insurance requirements and fuel containment procedures. Both remain unresolved.

The hours and days of operation generated the most heated discussion. Fishermen wanted fuel delivery to be available twice a day, seven days a week.

The committee members decided to recommend that refueling be allowed from 5 to 7 am, up to five days a week, determined by need and the availability of the fuel truck.

Mr. McMann ran down his list of credentials and said he would apply for a permit to conduct business on town piers, from the town of Tisbury, as required by recent amendments to the waterways regulations.

Mr. McMann said it was unlikely he would conduct refueling five days a week, because he also delivers fuel on Oak Bluffs and Edgartown harbors.

Asked by The Times why they wanted to refuel on Lake Tashmoo as opposed to using landside operations in Vineyard Haven Harbor, several commercial fishermen cited lower fuel costs and convenience.

The dock and one of the town’s only two public launch ramps are also used by recreational boaters. The fishermen assured the committee they would be out early, and the refueling operation would not interfere with public use of the dock.

The proposed regulations would limit refueling to commercial vessels secured at the bulkhead loading space.

Last October, the Tisbury selectmen had asked the two harbor committees to make recommendations on whether to allow fueling of boats at town docks, piers, and landings. Both committees recommended against it.

At a public hearing on May 4, selectmen voted to allow commercial fishermen to refuel at the Lake Street landing, using a licensed professional commercial delivery service, because they said it would be safer than having commercial vessels refueled from hand-held containers.

Final approval of new regulations rests with the selectmen.