MarineFisheries is continuing to utilize a portion of your recreational saltwater fishing permit fees to improve public access throughout the Commonwealth. The largest project for 2013 was the construction of a fishing pier at Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, built in partnership with the Department of Fish and Game’s Office of Fishing and Boating Access. By law, all monies from the sale of recreational saltwater fishing permits are deposited into the state’s Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund and 1/3 of the annually appropriated amount must be spent on facilities or activities that improve public access to recreational saltwater fishing.
The L shaped pier is approximately 320 feet long . It is located on the north end of Seaview Avenue, making it a short walk from many island attractions and businesses – including three ferry services. Although the main purpose of the pier is to give recreational anglers a safe and comfortable area to fish from, the pier will be accessible to everyone.
During construction, there were promising signs of things to come; many fish were seen underneath the pier, including striped bass, black sea bass, and scup. The pier was completed this past winter and will provide many great days of angling pleasure starting Spring 2014.
MarineFisheries has also developed new public access tools that are available on the internet. Using Google software, anglers can search interactive maps to access information about boat ramps, tackle shops, and headboats. By simply zooming into a particular area, icons can be clicked to see information such as the address and phone number. These interactive maps are found within the Recreational Fishing section of our website.
It is important for anglers to know their legal rights when it comes to accessing areas to fish. When the Commonwealth, through the Colonial Ordinances, transferred the land between the mean high and the mean low tide lines (known as the “intertidal zone” or the “wet sand” area of the shoreline) to private ownership, it reserved to the public the right to fish, fowl and navigate (“Public Trust Doctrine”). These reserved public trust rights allow members of the public, after legally accessing the shoreline – to fish, fowl and navigate in the intertidal zone. Landowners must allow anglers to pass their private jetties and docks for this purpose, but it is important to remember that the Public Trust Doctrine does not confer a right on anglers to fish from these privately owned structures. The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management provides a more detailed explanation of the public’s rights along the shoreline at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/czm/program-areas/public-access-and-coast-guide/public-rights/.
If you have further questions or related concerns about the Public Trust Doctrine, please contact MarineFisheries or the Office of Coastal Zone Management for additional information or assistance.
MarineFisheries is currently working, alongside the Office of Fishing and Boating Access, with several municipalities to make the next public access project a reality. Keep an eye on the MarineFisheries website and twitter feed (@MassDMF) for updates as soon as they become available.
MarineFisheries now has an interactive map showing accessible salt water boat ramps in Massachusetts.
Construction of the Oak Bluffs Pier. Pilings were hard to come by this year due to high demand in the wake of Hurricane Sandy last year.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.