Aquaculture projects approved in Tisbury

Grande joins the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. 

The Tisbury Select board approved a new aquaculture lease and an expansion to an existing aquaculture lease held by Jeff Canha's Husselton Head Oysters.

The Tisbury select board approved or adjusted three aquaculture lease areas Wednesday night. The board granted additional area to the Husselton Head Oysters lease area in Lagoon Pond, to allow space for rafts, and granted a new lease site for the company off West Chop. The board also allowed a coordinates adjustment to a previously sited Lagoon Pond lease owned by Greg Martino.

Jeff Canha, owner of Husselton Head Oysters and chair of the waterways committee, said he made an ethics disclosure to the town clerk and received a green light from the state ethics commission. He also said the waterways committee took no action on his lease application. 

Canha said his company has had “a very successful first year.”

The extra area requested to moor rafts won’t impact navigation, Canha told the board. However, he said, both the harbormaster and shellfish constable suggested the bounds of the mooring area need to be marked with corner bounds. Because the mooring areas are circular, Canha said they would be “difficult” to mark with corner bounds. Canha said bounds markers would make “nonproductive” areas and shrink the total area. 

“I just want to say aquaculture in the town of Tisbury is in its infancy, and this is something that as a town we should embrace,” select board member Roy Cutrer said. “And we should remove obstacles to the success of these businesses instead of creating them. I’m not saying that’s what’s happening. Please, no one take any offense. I’m just saying that aquaculture in the town is in its infancy, and we have a lot to learn. We have a lot to learn about managing these sites. And let’s keep an open mind.”

Select board chair Jeff Kristal said he recalled that another aquaculturist, Noah Mayrand, previously described Tisbury’s aquaculture regulations as a working document. “When we find issues such as what we’re presented with right now, we’ve got to be a little bit more understanding that this is the beginning of this, and will need some fine-tuning and tweaking,” Kristal said.

“It’s not that we’re against Jeff expanding his lease,” shellfish constable Danielle Ewart said. “We just want to see it clearly marked with four yellow buoys.” Ewart said the buoys were for safety. 

After consulting with the harbor department, Ewart proposed slightly altering the shape of the lease site, and adding a small amount of lease area to offset the impact of the marker buoys. 

Canha said he didn’t like the idea, and he argued that a relevant state law doesn’t mention the necessity for corner bounds. Canha said he thought the moorings themselves would be adequate markers.

“I am not interested in the corner buoys presented by the shellfish constable,” Canha said, “only because I don’t think it’s necessary.”

Ewart said the U.S. Coast Guard requires clear markers, as does the Army Corps of Engineers.

Dawn Barnes, whom Canha described as his assistant, told the board Canha’s original application to the Army Corps of Engineers had a diagram that showed the rafts moored in the positions requested. 

Doug Reece, president of the Lagoon Pond Association, recommended markers be placed for the sake of boaters.

Kristal opted to end deliberation on the corner buoys, and said, “We’ll come up with a solution as we go forward with this.”

“It’s an area that’s protected by what we call Douglas Rock,” Canha said. “It would be delineated by four large yellow buoys.”

“It rips over there,” Greg Martino said of Canha’s West Chop site. “And the tides and the winds, it’s no joke over there. But I’m sure he knows that, and it’s a smart move given that the ponds are heating up, and with vibrio that continues to happen on the Island, and algae blooms …”

The board voted unanimously to approve the West Chop site and to expand the Lagoon Pond site with conditions. The conditions were contingent on determinations from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Coast Guard. 

The board also granted a coordinates change for a Lagoon Pond lease for aquaculturist Greg Martino. The request didn’t generate much debate or generate many questions. 

In a surprise move, the board temporarily appointed town administrator Jay Grande to fill the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) seat vacated by Josh Goldstein. The board installed Grande on the MVC after two candidates present in the Zoom, David Ferraguzzi and Elaine Miller, lamented that more people weren’t interested in running for the seat. Kristal opted to seek more candidates, and put Grande on the board in the interim. He expected to revisit the issue in approximately three weeks. 

The board also endorsed a letter from the Oak Bluffs select board that seeks legislation to curtail mopeds. 


  1. Expanding commercial shellfish aquaculture will invite disease and enhance its spread. The claims the oysters we move nitrogen are false and increased high density oyster cultivation is likely to increase algae bloom.

  2. Recently, we have had a problem with disinformation. No claim, no matter how ridiculous, how divisive, or how much damage it does to our democracy will be defended by the willfully ignorant in support of their various agendas.
    When I read the first comment on this article I thought, he we go again. Is no topic off limits ?
    Mr. Wemys’s statement that oysters do not remove nitrogen goes against everything I have ever heard about this topic. A quick query to google —“do oysters remove nitrogen from water” returns multiple hits explaining that they do , and the process by which that happens.
    I found this link to be especially informative, and encourage anyone who is interested in this subject to read it.

    So I asked myself “why would Mr.Wemyss jump in here with such an obviously incorrect claim ?” So I looked Mr, Wemyss up. He appears to have a career in shellfish, and is obviously knowledgeable about the subject. I found an informative well written article he wrote some time ago about the nuances of marketing shellfish.

    So I ask you, Mr. Wemyss to please take a little time, and give us some information to verify why you have the opinions you do.
    I will look forward to an open and informative discussion. Thank you.

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