Wednesday morning, Sam Hopkins and his boat Endurance brought the first sea scallops in years to Chilmark, thanks to a hard-won $1 million permit provided by the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust. Local fishmongers flocked to buy them.
Fisherman Stanley Larsen, owner of Menemsha Fish Market, was first to meet Hopkins in the morning: “I was just leaving the dock as he was pulling into the dock. That was about 2:30, 3 o’clock this morning.”
Larsen said they couldn’t be fresher. “Swimming around yesterday afternoon,” he said.
Buying off the boat cuts out the middleman, Larsen said, so he can offer the scallops at a better price. “It’s great to see some local stuff coming in,” he said. “I’m probably going to eat a couple myself.”
Just up Basin Road, Betsy Larsen, owner of Larsen’s, also bought sea scallops from Hopkins. She said it’s been quite a while since sea scallops landed in Menemsha.
“My guess would be about six or seven years,” she said.
Sea scallops bought from New Bedford (America’s sea scallop capital) come “sight unseen,” she said. Not so when the Endurance tied up, and she could see them ahead of purchase.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s always fun to unload a boat.”
Larsen said she also bought sea scallops for her bothers Louie and Danny, who own the Net Result and Edgartown Seafood, respectively.
Larsen’s neighbor, Menemsha Fish House owner Alec Gale, also bought sea scallops from Hopkins.
“We got 50 pounds,” he said. “Nicest stuff I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen scallops that were a day old. I just ate a bunch raw.”
Gale said some of the sea scallops will go to the Island restaurants Menemsha Fish House supplies, and some will be sold retail through his new venture, the Fish House, by the airport.
Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust president John Keene expressed happiness at Hopkins’ success, and said the return of sea scallops to Menemsha was an important step in restoring the economic network necessary to sustain fishing on the Vineyard. He said the more valuable catches are landed on-Island, the more people are inclined to sustain the infrastructure necessary to support the industry that provides those catches. Keene encouraged Islanders to consider donating to the M.V. Fishermen’s Preservation Trust to aid the nonprofit’s acquisition of permits for its growing permit bank.
Ross Paasche, president of the American Scallop Association, agreed with Keene on the impact of landing sea scallops. “There’s a big ripple with [scallop] boats,” he said. Fuel docks, ice makers, mechanics, and the families of crew members all benefit from these boats, he said. He pointed out sea scallops have enriched New Bedford.
“It’s made New Bedford the No. 1 port for the past 16 years,” he said. “Probably the best managed fishery on earth.”
Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust executive director Shelley Edmundson said she was delighted Hopkins brought sea scallops to Menemsha. She pointed out Hopkins and the Endurance will be at Meet the Fleet on Thursday, August 2.
Hopkins could not be reached for comment, as he left Menemsha Harbor to continue scalloping right after unloading his catch.