Edgartown approves Cape Poge anchoring moratorium

Town election is moved to May.

The Edgartown select board unanimously approved a one-year moratorium on anchoring the majority of Cape Poge.

The Edgartown select board unanimously approved its first ever yearlong anchoring moratorium in the majority of Cape Poge, cementing a long-held recommendation from the town’s marine advisory committee.

The recommendation came following several summers of increased and intense boating in the ecologically sensitive marine area, which is home to one of the last bastions of bay scallops on the East Coast.

At a select board meeting Monday, committee member Bruce McIntosh said the committee reached the recommendation to prevent anchoring in the vast majority of the bay after several meetings. The major concern with the bay is protecting the eelgrass and scallops.

During a February public hearing, abutters and stakeholders expressed concern about the character and health of the bay, and how activity in the summer from recreational boaters is harming the area.

The committee did recommend leaving a small portion of the Gut, where boats enter and exit the bay, open to anchoring, with no-wake buoys at both ends of the channel.

In a March 12 letter to the select board, shellfish constable Paul Bagnall said the area would still allow access to the bay. “This anchorage area is primarily over a mud hole (anaerobic area) between two productive bay scalloping areas. It will allow for access to the pond while limiting environmental damage, and protect the eelgrass beds found there,” he wrote.

In addition to signage and education, the town will station a member of the harbormaster department, police department, or shellfish department at the pond at the weekends and holidays during the summer to educate and enforce any anchoring issues.

Town administrator James Hagerty said harbormaster Charlie Blair would mark off the anchoring area. 

Cape Poge was designated as a district of critical planning concern (DCPC) by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, which mandates meaningful management and protection for critical resources or areas. 

Last week, the commission approved amendments to the DCPC. The amendments concern the town’s ability to refine how permitted uses, such as boating, are regulated. The amendment focuses also on enforcement of regulations, and adds several enforcement entities to the advisory committee list, such as the Edgartown Police Department, the harbormaster, and the shellfish constable.

The amendments now head to town meeting, and must receive a two-thirds vote.

The select board approved the moratorium with little discussion. In a separate email to The Times, Hagerty said he believed it was the first-ever anchoring moratorium in the bay, and that it goes into effect immediately.

In other business, the select board approved extending the commercial and recreational bay scallop season in the outer harbor through April 30. Cape Poge shellfishing will be closed by the end of March.

The extended season will have the same limits as the regular season, with three bushels a day for commercial and one bushel a week for recreational.

Bagnall said the extension will be monitored on a week-to-week basis to make sure the fishery is sustainable.

Edgartown moved its annual town election to May 25. Town meeting has already been rescheduled for May 22.

Select board member Arthur Smadbeck said the decision was reached to avoid two town elections. Originally the town floated the idea of holding an election to elect officers in April, then hold a special election in May after town meeting for voters to decide on funding articles. “This will save the town some money,” Smadbeck said.


  1. All one needs to know is that Cape Poge is, ” … an ecologically sensitive marine area, which is home to one of the last bastions of bay scallops on the East Coast.” These ecologically sensitive areas are vanishing around the globe. People, boaters should be respectful and also thankful that this unique environment still exists.

    Thank you Edgartown select board for unanimously approving a yearlong anchoring moratorium.

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