MA - After Complaint, Town To Regulate Weir Pole Storage On Harding's Beach
CHATHAM — It’s been a practice for about as long as anyone can remember, but because of a complaint to the state, the town is now regulating the storage of weir poles at the end of Harding’s Beach.
Used to suspend offshore fish trap nets, the wooden poles are stored on the end of the beach in the off-season. Answering a complaint from an unnamed citizen, the state attorney general’s office says the practice represents a private use of public lands.
Town Manager Jill Goldsmith said the state contacted her last month, and she and staff researched to see whether the town had ever formally allowed the practice.
“It is referenced in the South Coastal Harbor Management Plan, and internally staff have said it’s been there for over 30 years, maybe a generation,” she said.
Selectman Cory Metters asked whether, by issuing a license to the fishermen, the town would satisfy the concerns raised by the attorney general’s office.
“That is specifically what they had suggested if the board were to allow it,” Goldsmith said. “I had consulted with town counsel as well.” The town reached out to the two companies in question, Nantucket Sound Fish Weirs and Chatham Fish Weir Enterprises. Selectmen Chairman Shareen Davis recused herself from the discussion and vote, since the latter company is owned by her daughter.
Board member Jeffrey Dykens said fish traps have been a part of the town’s commercial fishery for ages.
“The Indians probably did it centuries ago,” he said. “I don’t see any negatives here whatsoever.”