Edgartown selectmen agree to a compromise over shellfishing license suspension

A shellfishing ban was recently lifted on waters of Martha's Vineyard. — Stacey Rupolo

In a brief meeting on Monday, Oct. 31, Edgartown selectmen approved a decision reached a few days earlier by the town’s shellfish department. During a hearing in the late spring, Angela Fisher had her commercial shellfishing license suspended for one week. At the same hearing, Nick and David Viera had their commercial license suspended for a month, with one week to fall during scallop season. Ms. Fisher appealed her suspension.

Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall told the selectmen that the shellfish committee had recently met with Ms. Fisher. He said she thought it was unfair that she would lose a full week of scallop season while the other fishermen — with a longer suspension — would miss the same number of days during the season.

Mr. Bagnall said the committee decided to move Ms. Fisher’s suspension period to Oct. 26 through Nov. 1, so she could be into the dock by 1:30 pm on Tuesday, Nov. 2. In a letter he gave to the selectmen, Mr. Bagnall wrote, “The committee arrived at this period by factoring that the Vieras only served 25 percent of their penalty in scallop season, so that the same should be the case for Angela as well. Ms. Fisher agreed to this, and the shellfish department is ready to enforce this penalty if the board of selectmen ratifies it today.”

Selectman Arthur Smadbeck called the decision a “good solution,” and he and selectman Margaret Serpa approved the compromise.

Mr. Bagnall then left the meeting, saying he needed to get back to the dock. He told the selectmen that twice as many shellfishing licenses were sold this season, compared with last year.

“We’ve got over 90,” he said, “and we’re busy when we only sell 20.”