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Local fishing nonprofit receives $50,000 donation

MV Times article, June 20, 2023, by Mia Vittimberga

Tito’s Handmade Vodka partnered with the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust (MVFPT) to fund a new gin boom, a type of hydraulic crane that helps unload heavy catches from fishing vessels.

According to Tito’s, the boom will help approximately 25 to 30 commercial fishing businesses, mainly on the Island. But they say it has the potential to help upwards of 100.

The boom unveiled in Menemsha during a ceremony last week.

MVFPT Executive Director Shelley Edmundson said that gin booms are critical to the fishing industry. “Without a gin boom, our harbor will start to lose its supply of local seafood, which would impact not only our commercial fishermen, but the restaurants and other wholesale and retail seafood markets,” Edmundson said.

Tito’s awarded MVFPT with $50,000. The majority of the funds went to the gin boom, with the remainder funding MVFPT’s Seafood Donation Program. This program donates seafood meals to food insecurity initiatives.

Finn Briggs, Tito’s Massachusetts State Manager, is from the Island. Last year, he nominated the MVFPT to take part in a charity event affiliated with “Love, Tito’s,” Tito’s philanthropy program.

Tito's then asked the MVFPT if there were any initiatives that they could support. “We really like to lean into what our employees are passionate about, and MVFPT was something our team members in Massachusetts were really passionate about,” Tito’s Director of Philanthropy Operations Lindsey Bates said.

MVFPT has faced challenges, especially during the COVID pandemic. “The whole seafood market and food supply chain broke down,” said Edmundson. Yet these challenges resulted in the launch of MVFPT’s Seafood Donation program. “The success of this program and its impact continues to grow,” said Edmundson. “Tito’s Handmade Vodka’s support has helped continue our ability to purchase seafood from local fishermen and offer high quality seafood to our food insecurity programs.”

Edmundson anticipates that MVFPT will continue to work on supporting the Island’s commercial fishing industry. MVFPT also hopes to do educational work and develop apprenticeship programs.

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