A bill sponsored by Rep. Dylan Fernandes would give the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group more control of the John T. Hughes Hatchery and Research Station in Oak Bluffs. Commonly known as the lobster hatchery for past endeavors there, the state facility is occupied by the Shellfish Group, which propagates shellfish on the premises, such as oysters, and conducts research. Fernandes’ bill, House Bill 4885, would restructure the lease agreement so responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the facility passes to the Shellfish Group.
Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group executive director Emma Green Beach told The Times she saw merit in the bill because among things, it would give the Shellfish Group greater autonomy to tinker with the facility and expand its operations.
The facility regularly needs maintenance, or as she put it, “constant attention and love.”
Fernandes described the facility as an “incredibly important part of aquaculture on Martha’s Vineyard.” The lease agreement will be for 15 years, and follows more than $250,000 in funding he’s helped direct to the Shellfish Group to improve aquaculture on the Vineyard, he said.
A joint legislative hearing on the bill is slated for Wednesday, August 12, from 4 to 5 pm, for written testimony only.