Martha’s Vineyard Shellfishing Industry Gets Boost From State

OAK BLUFFS – The state recently announced a long-term agreement between the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries and the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group that will help the local industry.

The deal authorizes the group to continue using the department’s John T. Hughes Hatchery and Research Facility in Oak Bluffs to raise shellfish for transplant into shellfish beds in Martha’s Vineyard.

The 15-year lease agreement was enabled by legislation sponsored by Cape & Islands State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) and State Representative Dylan Fernandes (D-Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket).

It was signed into law earlier this year by Governor Charlie Baker.

“Aquaculture is vital to the regions blue economy, and the work done by the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group is key to establishing sustainability in this industry,” said Cyr.

“This 15-year lease agreement supports the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group to further their essential work on the island such as their shellfish restoration programs,” he said.

The facility was originally constructed in 1949 under lobster culturist John Hughes as a hub of lobster aquaculture.

In 2011 the facility was repurposed as a shellfish hatchery.

The hatchery has steadily expanded its scope of operations, providing almost half of the shellfish larvae needed to produce 10-15 million quahog seed, 20-25 million scallop seed, and 10 million oyster seed for distribution in all Martha’s Vineyard towns since 2019.

The hatchery is also used for projects such as eelgrass propagation, kelp culture and shell recycling.

“We are thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to bring this historic building back to a thriving and productive state,” said Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group Director Emma Green-Beach.

“We believe that greater shellfish resources will improve the economic, ecological and cultural resiliency of the Vineyard Community,” she said, “and now we have greater capacity to take bigger strides toward that goal.”

To learn more about MVSG, click here.

By, Matthew Tomlinson, NewsCenter

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