Cape Cod charter boat raises ire of Martha’s Vineyard charter captains

Island charter fishermen came to the Edgartown selectmen’s meeting Monday armed with eight letters of support and a boatload of opposition to a Hyannis company’s request to operate a charter fishing boat from Memorial Wharf.

Charter captains packed the selectmen’s meeting, but the selectmen headed off their objections a few seconds after calling the regular meeting to order.

“I and the other selectmen have read all these other letters and pretty much agreed we don’t need another boat in the harbor,” selectman Art Smadbeck said. “I’m going to make a motion not to pursue the boat from Hyannis.”

Last week, harbormaster Charlie Blair brought the idea to selectmen after an inquiry from the Helen H deep-sea charter fishing company, based in Hyannis. The company operates a fleet of four boats, including 100-passenger and 75-passenger charter fishing or “head” boats. The town would have charged the company a fee to use Memorial Wharf.

Last week, selectmen asked Mr. Blair to work on a more specific proposal for their consideration.

“The way the economy is, the charter boat fleet in Edgartown is hurting,” commercial fisherman Donnie Benefit said. “I think they would send their small boat over here, which would take all the business.”

Selectmen voted unanimously not to pursue an agreement. Since the issue came up too late to be properly advertised, selectmen agreed to put it on their agenda for next week and formally affirm their vote.

“Is there anything else you wanted to do?” chairman Margaret Serpa asked the charter captains as she wrapped up the discussion.

“Go fishing,” came the chorus of replies as they shuffled out of the selectmen’s meeting room.