The fishing communities and harbors of Martha’s Vineyard and the way of life that has been established by generations of its commercial fishermen are essential to the island’s culture. Today, the high prices of fishing permits and quota have made commercial fishing unattainable for the island’s small-boat fishing fleets.
As older fishermen retire, the prospects of young island fishermen purchasing those permits are increasingly unlikely because of overwhelming costs. Without fishing permits, our local fishermen cannot access our local waters. Paired with the loss of fishing access comes the loss of fishermen and the skills and knowledge required to become a fisherman--skills which are normally passed down for generations. Gaps in the transfer of skills required to fish threaten both the island’s fishing culture and supply of local fish. If this trend continues, there will be no local fishermen and the island will depend on outside sources to supply the community’s seafood.
Throughout New England and across the country, communities are establishing permit banks, which purchase fishing permits and lease their affiliated "quota," or the right to catch a certain amount of fish or shellfish, to local small-scale fishermen in order to help them build strong businesses. Similar to land conservation initiatives, they hold fishing permits for the benefit of their local fishermen, leasing quota at affordable rates. A Martha's Vineyard permit bank will ensure a lasting, viable, and sustainable commercial fishing community on the island for years to come.
The Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust is a Massachusetts 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 2011 to: (i) Preserve the historic fishing fleets, communities, and economies of Martha’s Vineyard; (ii) Protect the marine populations and fishing grounds off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and New England; (iii) Educate the community about its local fisheries.
Safeguarding Martha’s Vineyard’s fishing heritage and future by supporting the island’s small-boat, owner-operated fishing fleets and their sustainably harvested catch.
Martha’s Vineyard’s historic fishing character is revitalized and sustained, with (1) economic growth and stability in and affordable access to local fisheries, bringing young people into fishing jobs that pay a living wage; (2) healthy local fish stocks supported by science and innovative cooperative management between regulators and local fishermen; and (3) an educated public on the island and nationwide that supports our fishing industry and buys fresh, local, sustainable seafood.