Photograph of Fishermen

Photograph of Fishermen

The nature of fishing near Island shores has had to change constantly to adapt to changing conditions and culinary tastes. Fishermen could once make a good living selling the fish they caught in traps–nets strung from poles driven into the sea floor, to intercept migrating fish–along the northwest shore of the Vineyard and nearby locations. But by the 1930s diminishing catches of weakfish (Cynoscion regalis), the primary fish trapped by this method, signaled the end of trap fishing as a profitable pursuit.  

Now, through a combination of public and private initiatives, the focus of fisheries in the near-shore waters around Martha’s Vineyard has shifted to sustainable aquaculture focusing on shellfish. The Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, a non-profit in operation since 1976, works with the shellfish departments of the Island’s towns to spawn, raise, and distribute quahogs, bay scallops, and oysters to public beds for recreational and commercial shellfishing.

In addition, oyster farming is now a thriving business, with several companies operating in the warm, shallow waters of Katama Bay on plots leased from the Town of Edgartown.


Title Photograph of Fishermen
Type Photograph
Credit Gift of Basil Welsh
Ref No RU 465 A7
Thematic Collection 100 Years, 100 Stories: Harvesting the Sea
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