Topics: Commercial fishing and shellfishing

CHATHAM — For Don St. Pierre, who turns 80 in August, digging ditches, climbing hills and bushwhacking through the puckerbrush isn't as easy as it used to be. He's stepping down as the town's herring warden after more than half a century of watching over the fish runs and their seasonal visitors. A Harwich native, St. Pierre started working on herring runs when he was a member of the sportfishing club Cape Cod...

Herring Are Running, But Annual Count Is Canceled

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — Last week, Natural Resources Director Heinz Proft reported more than 2,000 herring had already passed through Johnson’s Flume at the West Harwich herring run. It’s a good, early start for the annual anadromous spawning migration. The state Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) installed an electronic fish counter at Johnson’s Flume a few years ago, and it registered 1,223,211 passing in 2019, more herri...

CHATHAM — Though it would require a regulatory sea change to accomplish, a proposal to use parts of Nantucket Sound off South Chatham as a shellfish grow-out area has sparked some tentative interest. Stephen Wright, who co-owns Chatham Shellfish Company with John Richards, made a presentation to the waterways advisory committee last week, saying they are seeking to establish an experimental grow-out area in a ...

CHATHAM — A decision by federal regulators to adopt restrictions on herring trawler operations is being hailed by local fishermen. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week approved Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring Fisheries Management Plan, including restricting midwater trawl gear inshore of the 12-mile limit from the Canadian border to Connecticut and inshore of 20 miles off Cape Cod....

CHATHAM – Selectmen Monday authorized the expenditure of $2.6 million to rebuild the Eldredge trap dock on Stage Harbor. In a move that likely reflects ongoing problems with the fish pier observation deck construction, officials rejected the low bidder on the project, instead opting to go with the second lowest bidder. The town purchased the trap dock from the Eldredge family in 2016 for $1.3 million to pre...

Local Fishermen Have Their Own Quirky Superstitions

By: Doreen Leggett

Lobsterman Rob Martin was out with a crewman years ago when the fellow tried to gaff a seagull that landed on the boat. Martin told him to cut it out. Not only was it illegal, it was bad luck. Moments later, the stern man was gone. “He went flying out the back of the boat,” said Martin, adding that he told him “I told you so” after fishing him out of the water. Martin is not superstitious, for instance h...

Ron Braun Finds His Niche In Conch Fishing

By: Doreen Leggett

When Ronnie Braun was a young fisherman captaining the Peggy B, he used to cruise by buoys strung in a line, and they weren’t marking lobster traps. He always wondered what they were, but since he was catching thousands of pounds of cod a day, he didn’t think much of it. “I thought those days would never end,” Braun said. But they did. Braun, whose only career has been fishing, began involving himself ...

CHATHAM – Chatham Bars Inn and the town have reached a settlement in a lawsuit the inn filed over the town's 2014 taking of inn property adjacent to the municipal fish pier. In an agreement finalized in Barnstable Superior Court last week, the town will pay the inn $400,000 for a permanent easement over 10,566 square feet of land used for parking by commercial fishermen as well as access to the pier's south jo...

At The Fish Pier, A Crisis Of Confidence

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — While the general contractor has promised to complete the installation of a new observation deck at the fish pier by July 19, as of Tuesday, no construction was visible except for a few laborers methodically working on a small concrete ramp. What was visible was a chaotic scene exacerbated by the construction zone. While an 18-wheeler backed in to unload fish and several refrigerated trucks jockeye...

Fish Pier Delays Vex Fishermen, Sightseers

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — With the commercial fishing and visitor seasons rapidly approaching, delays in rebuilding the fish pier observation deck are causing nerves to fray. “It’s becoming a safety issue,” commercial fisherman Doug Feeney, chairman of the town's Aunt Lydia's Cove committee, told selectmen Monday night. Commercial fishermen are unable to unload their catch in the usual way because the electric fish hoists h...

This year, the Family Pantry of Cape Cod expects to serve 10,000 clients and distribute 100,000 bags of groceries valued at $4.2 million. “We call ourselves a sustaining pantry,” said Christine Menard, the director of the Harwich facility, meaning that the pantry’s clients do not fit a stereotype of people in total collapse. “They are landscapers, fishermen, nursing assistants. You’ll recognize people here fro...

In the early 17th century, English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold gave Cape Cod its name due to the abundant cod fish he saw in its waters. Throughout history, the cod has played a crucial role in feeding various peoples, from explorers on ships such as the Vikings, to Basques, to Europeans, to early settlers of the Cape. They all lived on cod, whether it was fresh, salted or frozen. Author Mark Kurlansky, in hi...

In Local Runs, Herring Numbers Jump

By: Alan Pollock

Judging from the sheer number of gulls loitering at local herring runs this spring, it would seem that 2019 was a good year for the struggling fish species. And official herring counts seem to be confirming that suspicion. On Tuesday, the electronic fish counter at Johnson’s Flume in Harwich had registered just under one million river herring this year, Natural Resources Director Heinz Proft said. That’s up fr...

A New And Improved Miss Fitz Hits The Seas

By: Doreen Leggett

CHATHAM – The gleaming white boat was trailered down to the ramp at Ryder’s Cove and eased into the water on an April day so windy it brought tears to your eyes. “Swing it,” said Mike Davis to the crew at Chatham Boat Company. “Go, Go Go!” Captain John Our quickly reversed the Miss Fitz and raced off to the Chatham Fish Pier. “She feels like a brand new boat,” Our said. Miss Fitz is in Chatham Harbor ...

Selectmen Like Scaled-back Plan For 90 Bridge St.

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — Selectmen are advancing a plan to build a new shellfish upweller, floating docks and a public rest room on the small town-owned parcel at 90 Bridge St., next to the Mitchell River drawbridge. The conceptual plan they reviewed Monday evening would cost about $3.44 million to build, less than the $4.17 million projected for an earlier, more ambitious plan. Consulting engineer David Anderson of Stante...

Selectmen Approve Expansion of Experimental Kelp Farm

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — Kelpeher Farms will be allowed to expand its experimental kelp farming operation outside the Herring River to a 2.5 acre site, selectmen voted Monday night. Mark Kelleher was before selectmen seeking approval to expand the experimental kelp project he has been operating this winter in Nantucket Sound. He also asked the board to put in place aquaculture regulations that would assist in making the perm...