Commercial shellfishing in Falmouth is limited to certain times of the year in certain water bodies, and some local harvesters are looking for more opportunities and a longer period to ply their trade.
The Falmouth Shellfish Advisory Committee, led by chairman Peter Chase, made a plan Wednesday, August 14, to present options to change the town’s schedule for commercial shellfish area openings to Falmouth Marine & Environmental Services Department staff.
Following the group’s discussion, which included input from commercial diggers, Robert O. Sargent Sr., the committee’s vice chairman, said he and a small group of commercial harvesters will meet with shellfish constable R. Charles Martinsen III and fisheries technician Christina M. Lovely next week.
Mr. Martinsen and Ms. Lovely did not attend the committee meeting Wednesday.
Ms. Lovely had asked the committee to provide preferred dates for opening Great Pond and Green Pond, Mr. Chase said.
“I think they would accept input on any area, but particularly those two,” he said, adding that there is a period from November 13 to December 4 when both Waquoit Bay and Great Pond are closed.
“Outside of that, you can pretty much go anywhere all winter, except in Waquoit Bay,” the chairman said.
The committee’s primary suggestion was to change the opening date of Great Pond for commercial shellfishing from December 4 to November 2—the same day the family or recreational shellfishing period opens—to give commercial diggers about a month of additional work time. They did not suggest changing the dates for Green Pond.
After presenting that suggestion, Mr. Sargent said he would ask Mr. Martinsen and Ms. Lovely about the possibility of opening all shellfish locations in Falmouth to anyone with a shellfishing license whenever the state gives approval to open an area due to clean and safe water quality.
Commercial fisherman John M. Perry of East Falmouth, who attended the meeting, commented that when Falmouth was a “four-fishery town,” with different seasons for scallops, clams, quahogs and steamers, “a good commercial fisherman would find fisheries to fish” and there were few issues between commercial and recreational diggers.
“We don’t want to be dictated by the [shellfish] dealers saying, ‘Don’t open it [a water body] up because I can’t sell it [the product].’ If you’re good, you’ll find a market and a make a day’s pay,” Mr. Perry said. “Because there’s no scallop and steamer seasons, that takes two fisheries away, so guys will look elsewhere. Today, if you’re not a complete fisherman from the day you start, for the love of it and the money, I don’t care when Green Pond opens. If the water quality by the state says open, it should be open.”
Opening shellfish areas whenever the state permits would allow diggers, commercial and recreational, to spread out across the town and not overcrowd any one area, Mr. Sargent said.
“Even if we get some of it [more open periods], I’ll be happy,” he said.