Edgartown closes Cape Pogue to scalloping

The closure will begin Saturday and is necessary to protect an abundance of scallop seed, shellfish constable Paul Bagnall said.

A basket of scallops from the lagoon are brought ashore. — Photo by Sam Moore

At a regular Monday-evening meeting, Edgartown selectmen voted to approve a shellfish committee recommendation to close Cape Pogue to recreational and commercial scalloping beginning this Saturday. The closure is intended to protect seed scallops during the coldest days of the winter.

Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall said that the shellfish committee will survey the area in approximately six weeks. On March 1, the committee will vote on whether or not to reopen Cape Pogue. If approved, the reopening date would be March 7.

Mr. Bagnall told selectmen that unseasonably warm temperatures have allowed him to extend the bay scalloping season later than usual. Although scalloping has been poor, and few, if any, fishermen harvested their three-bushel limits on a daily basis, the market rate for scallops is high enough that the effort has been worth it, he said.

In a prepared statement, Mr. Bagnall said that between two and 10 fishermen a day are still harvesting scallops, and he said they are landing between one and two bushels a day. “At $30 a pound, a bushel of bay scallops is worth over $200,” Mr. Bagnall said. He told selectmen he expects that price to increase by March.

The Edgartown side of Sengekontacket Pond remains open to commercial scalloping by dip netters.

At the start of the season, Oak Bluffs closed its portion of Sengekontacket Pond to scalloping to protect an abundance of seed, a decision that infuriated some commercial scallopers. Tisbury followed suit, and closed Lagoon Pond to all scalloping.

Commercial scallopers most often harvest the highly desirable bay scallop by using drags to scrape the shellfish off the sea bottom. Seed scallops are culled from the catch. Repeated culling, particularly in very cold weather, can harm or kill the seed.

Sun power

In other news Monday, selectmen agreed to explore the viability of installing a photovoltaic solar canopy over the Edgartown Park and Ride lot near the Triangle.

Edgartown energy advisory committee chairman Paul Pimental, who is also a director for the Vineyard Power Cooperative, told selectmen that the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) has invited the town to participate in a joint request for proposals (RFP) among Island and Cape towns that would solicit plans for canopy projects.

“In general, it seems like excellent use of the space,” Mr. Pimental said.

If enough towns are interested in the project, CVEC will ask Edgartown for a letter of intent at the beginning of February, and will put together an RFP. An approved vendor would build the canopy at its own expense and enter a lease with Edgartown. Edgartown would not be involved in the collecting or selling of solar energy.

“I’m not advocating, per se. We’re saying that this seems like a good arrangement,” Mr. Pimental told selectmen.

Mr. Pimental said that details would have to be worked out. “For example, I can’t figure out how the vendor here makes money,” he said.

“That’s a worry, if it’s too good to be true,” selectman Art Smadbeck said.

Overall, Mr. Smadbeck said, the idea was appealing because it would mean revenue for the town and also because the town would be supporting alternative energy. However, he questioned the practicality of outsourcing a solar canopy project when Edgartown has tradesmen like Mr. Pimental with expertise and experience with similar projects.

“I think the analysis needs to be done both ways,” Mr. Smadbeck said.

According to CVEC’s website, “CVEC’s purposes include developing and/or owning renewable electric generation facilities and procuring and/or selling long-term electric supply or other energy-related goods or services including renewable energy certificate contracts at competitive prices to member communities and consumers within member communities.”