New draft of mooring regulations await public input in Tisbury

A new survey asks questions about Vineyard Haven Harbor and the town's other waterways. — Stacey Rupolo

Tisbury is looking to better regulate elastic moorings. The harbor management committee and subcommittee presented a new draft of mooring regulations to selectmen on Tuesday, and the town will hold a public hearing on May 23 at 6 pm at the Katharine Cornell Theater.

In March, selectmen approved a temporary moratorium on the installation of additional elastic moorings in Tisbury waters, ending May 24.

Elastic moorings, also referred to as conservation moorings, differ extensively from conventional moorings. Because the cord is connected to the anchor by a buoy that floats beneath the surface of the water, the mooring line does not drag along the seafloor, and the benefit is the preservation of eelgrass — a vital part of the seabed.

“Elastic moorings definitely have their place,” Jim Lobdell, chairman of the harbor management committee, told The Times on Wednesday. And although the town will be using them, consistency was important and they will be particular as to where.

The regulations propose that elastic moorings are not to be used in the inner harbor, where the majority of moorings are chain and exposed to extreme weather. Elastic moorings require multiple inspections, are to be removed in the winter, and must have a ball and chain buoy.

Jay Wilbur, former Tisbury harbormaster, expressed concern with the new regulations. He began selling elastic moorings about nine months ago as an independent contractor, and believes strongly in their environmental benefits. “Unless I’m mistaken, the selectmen voted to start replacing chain with elastic back last September,” Mr. Wilbur said. “And here we are, nine months later, we’re in the middle of a moratorium, and the environment and the good people who own moorings are being held hostage by this.”