Shellfish constable to town residents: Dig in

Urges Edgartown to be more proactive.


Edgartown shellfish constable Paul Bagnall says if Islanders want to keep eating their quahogs, scallops, and steamers, the town has to go local. “I’d much rather see 10 or 12 licenses filled,” Mr. Bagnall said.

At the Edgartown board of selectmen meeting, officials discussed updates to Edgartown shellfish bylaws and the approved expansion of aquaculture licensing.

Aquaculture licenses, which in Edgartown are given to people interested in raising shellfish from seed, can only be administered in nonproductive areas, he said. The sizable decrease in wild harvesting over the past decade leaves an opportunity open for growth.

The Edgartown Shellfish Committee has started searching for eligible beds, like in Katama Bay, where the north channel’s beds are lush.

Bagnall also expressed concerns about safety on barges used for shellfishing in deeper waters. Come winter, the cold freezes surfaces on barges, making them slippery — and risky. He fears people slipping into the water.

“In the winter you see sea smoke — that’s salt water freezing before your eyes,” Bagnall said.

In Katama Bay, the closest barge floats over 6,000 feet way — over a mile. Recounting his own experience sliding into the water, luckily shallow, he stresses the need for extra precautions.

“It’s not about just getting out, you also have to get inland,” Bagnall said.

In other business, the board of selectmen announced an increase in the cost of processing parking tickets. Tickets will increase to $2 effective July 1 — a 50 cent increase from the previous processing fee. Dukes County Advisory Board determined the cost of processing parking tickets exceeded what current fees were yielding. The fee has not increased since 2006.

Fire Chief Peter Shemeth will be working with the board of selectmen on the transition plan when it comes time to appoint a new fire chief. “It’s not done that often, and I want to make sure it’s done right,” Chief Shemeth said. Including Chief Shemeth, only two fire chiefs have been appointed over the past 30 years.

Two police officers received special commendations for saving the life of an elderly man last week. Officers Kyle Altieri and Alexander Guest saw a man fall inside a restaurant, and found him shaking, and discovered he had stopped breathing. Officer Altieri performed rescue breaths and Officer Guest called 911. Officer Altieri realized he could not feel the man’s pulse, and began performing CPR until paramedics arrived. The elderly man awoke, and was taken to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Vineyard Power president Richard J. Andre updated selectmen on the the company’s plan to scout viable sites for their offshore wind farm cabling — potentially in Barnstable and Falmouth. “We are focusing this summer on export cable routes,” Mr. Andre said. These sites would require about 30 miles of undersea cabling, and five miles of onshore cabling from the Island to the sites. Vineyard Power is one of the companies seeking permission to build offshore wind turbines 15 miles off the south coast of Martha’s Vineyard.