Edgartown recreational scallop season set to open Saturday

Selectmen Monday renewed their support for a long-dormant renewable energy project in Muskeget Channel.

Bushel of Scallops. - Photo by Michael Cummo

Edgartown board of selectmen voted Monday for the much-anticipated recreational scalloping season to open on Saturday, Oct. 1. The season is expected to continue to March 31, 2017. Commercial scalloping will begin Tuesday, Nov. 1.

The residential scallop limit is set at one level 10-gallon basket per week, according to the recommendation of shellfish constable Paul Bagnall. Commercial scalloping season totals are three level 10-gallon baskets per day, Monday through Friday, with the commercial season also coming to an end on March 31 next year.

“It looks like a pretty decent scallop season,” Mr. Bagnall told the selectmen. “Not like the old days, but maybe 4,000 or 5,000 bushels.”

Wood Filley provided an update on the ongoing efforts to alleviate the traffic issues that plague the Chappy ferry staging line. His company, Community Supported Solutions, was hired in the spring by the town, Chappy ferry owner Peter Wells, and the Chappaquiddick Island Association to study the problem and come up with possible solutions.

Extra staging along North Water Street would be used for the overflow ferry traffic anticipated when one ferry boat goes out of service on Oct. 11, Mr. Filley explained. The same staging area is being considered as a possible way to accommodate larger vehicles next summer. The extended staging area was also in place last fall. “I think what this does is open up options,” Mr. Filley told the selectmen.

Selectmen also heard an update on a now 10-year-old project to develop clean energy using the tidal current in the Muskeget Channel off the waters east of Edgartown. The energy project has received grant funding over the years, but needs to come up with approximately $300,000 for a feasibility study in order to satisfy federal requirements to get a license to pilot the project.

John Miller, executive director of the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative, nonprofit developers of the project, phoned into Monday’s meeting. The town supports the project, but provides none of the funding for it.

Mr. Miller said that most tidal energy initiatives involve fast-moving water, not the two to four knots in the Muskeget Channel, which he said is “marginal in terms of resources by global standards.” Similar projects are funded by larger developers, mostly in Europe, he explained. The Muskeget Channel project is looking to produce five megawatts over five years. Initial permits for the project were recently suspended over lack of progress, selectman Arthur Smadbeck explained. Mr. Miller wants to keep the project going, hoping to receive the funding needed for the feasibility study from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

A longtime supporter of the plan, Mr. Smadbeck affirmed the town’s commitment to the project.

“Do we still support your efforts?” he said to Mr. Miller; “I think everybody is still behind you.”

Mr. Smadbeck said developing newer technology that can take advantage of the slower currents will take time.

“We’re not talking about kilowatts but megawatts that can be produced in a slower current,” he told The Times after the meeting. “That would make sense. It’s another clean energy initiative that we can employ.”