Chilmark sets oyster and scallop seasons


On the recommendation of Chilmark shellfish constable Isaiah Scheffer, the Chilmark select board unanimously approved opening dates for oyster and bay scallop seasons. 

Commercial bay scallop season will start Nov. 22, with a limit of two bushels per day. Recreational scallop season will begin Oct. 18, with a half-bushel per day limit.

Commercial and recreational oyster seasons will open Nov. 1.

Scheffer informed the board it would be “a little more fair,” in addition to being easier, to limit commercial oyster harvesters to 800 oysters per day, three days a week, as opposed to a bushel three days a week. The recreational limit remains at a half-bushel per day.

Scheffer recommended a fixed season close date of March 31 for all oyster fishing. 

Following a question from select board member Bill Rossi, Scheffer said in order to protect the eelgrass at Muddy Cove, scallop dragging wouldn’t be allowed, only dipnetting. Scheffer told the board the eelgrass in Muddy Cove was actually expanding, and was the result of a meticulous seeding project.

Select board chair Jim Maklin commended Scheffer on the eelgrass. 

Select board member Warren Doty commended Scheffer on his shellfish propagation work. “The work that he has done is really very good,” Doty said.

“Absolutely great,” Malkin said.

Scheffer told the board that samples from the Tisbury Great Pond have been sent to a lab at the University of New Hampshire to identify DNA. Fecal coliform contamination has made a big portion of Tisbury Great Pond unfishable, Scheffer said. The samples were taken from Crab Creek and Town Cove. Scheffer said he is working with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission on the sampling project.

“We’re going to find out some of the contributors to the fecal coliform problem that we’re having,” he said. “Things seem to have gotten worse in the last few years.”

Scheffer later told The Times the tests can identify a variety of animals, including Canada geese and horses. The test can also pinpoint whether the source is human, he noted. 

In other business, the board endorsed the board of health’s continuing prohibition of in-person meetings. In light of the cemetery commission having conducted an in-person meeting at Abel’s Hill Cemetery, the board made an exception for meetings that take place outdoors.