Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Reading last week’s article on bluefin tuna, I was dismayed by the many fallacies and inaccuracies reported throughout the piece, as well as the absence of informed, balanced reporting. Regarding the Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit over the National Marine Fisheries Service’s recent rule changes with respect to bluefin, to purport the rule changes as, “increasing overfishing” or “allowing additional harvesting of bluefin tuna by expanding the fishing season” is at best stilted language and, at worst, a stark misrepresentation of the truth. Ms. Kilduff’s statement about “catching the last bluefin” is a preposterous and sensational statement, not supported by any fisheries science or common sense. First of all, according to firsthand accounts, aerial surveys, tag reports and the latest scientific stock assessment, there are plenty of tuna and dramatic reductions have been made in the last few years that have already been proven to be rebuilding the stocks. Any lack of fish inshore or on historic fishing grounds (like south of the Vineyard) is clearly a direct result of industrial-scale pair trawling for herring and mackerel.
The facts are as follows: Atlantic bluefin are managed internationally by ICCAT, a regulatory body comprised of 48 nations. Bluefin tuna are among the most highly migratory fish in the world, regularly crossing oceans and international borders. Each country is allocated an annual quota of bluefin tuna they may legally harvest. Individual countries devise their own further regulations, such as season, size and bag limits. On this side of the Atlantic, bluefins are caught commercially one at a time, by hand, from small boats and with minimal bycatch or other environmental impact. In addition to almost exclusively fishing with artisanal hand gear — harpoon, handline, rod and reel — the U.S. and Canada fish under the most stringent, self-imposed regulations in the world; for example, the U.S. minimum commercial size for bluefin is 73 inches (fish that size have spawned at least once), and a boat may keep no more than three fish per day. The new government rule allows the NMFS, only if it sees fit, to increase the daily limit to five fish per day per boat. However, there is a strict annual quota (only x number of fish may be caught per year), so under the new rule, should the NMFS increase the daily limit it will not lead to more fish being caught overall.
The regulations will only allow for better opportunity for fishermen to legally harvest what they are allowed to catch. And the rule did not even change the general category limits, it simply allows the agency to go up to five per day if they see fit. CBD says “they nearly doubled the daily limit” which is, again, misleading, because as the statement implies even more fish being caught, the annual quota of fish that may be harvested has remained the same. The bottom line is that there is a quota that is set scientifically that takes all the factors into account and fishermen have every right to catch that. Whether you can catch two a day or five a day makes no difference if you are within your quotas! The reason the NMFS proposed the rule is in the name of the continued rebuilding of tuna stocks; whatever the U.S. does not catch of its annual quota will be given to other countries, who abide by far more damaging regulations and fishing methods (juvenile fish, large scale netting and purse seining). The U.S. has always been the leader in managing bluefin; we have an artisanal fleet and are a model to follow. Although overfishing occurred in the past on the other side of the Atlantic and Mediterranean it is a fact that they have recently come into compliance with the science. The new NMFS rule helps both U.S. fishermen as well as the improvement of fish stocks, as in this country we harvest one mature, post-spawning age fish at a time, by hand, under strict controls.
A word regarding the Center for Biological Diversity: They have zero expertise on bluefin, only got involved in fisheries issues a few years ago and have seized upon creating hysteria in the general public as a means to raise money for their organization. They are plainly on a witch-hunt against U.S. owner/operator fishermen that are fishing sustainably and within their scientific quotas. Their lawsuit against NMFS, while full of inaccuracies, misstatements and outright lies, remains an enormous waste of taxpayer money and prevents the government agencies from being able to do their job, namely, ensuring the health and sustainability of fish stocks and the improved management of beleaguered American fisheries and fishermen.
The author of the story, a fine journalist who usually covers fisheries issues with an informed and balanced presentation, neglected to include the viewpoint of any fisherman or scientist in the article, instead relying upon quotes from a San Francisco-based attorney representing a group from Tuscon, Ariz., that has absolutely no “salt on their socks.” Had he spoken to any of the scientists or local fishermen who study and encounter bluefin tuna regularly, he perhaps would have included the above salient points and accurately covered all sides of the bluefin issue. From a reputable newspaper with long ties to a historic fishing region, that would have been a more accurate and balanced presentation of the issues and facts.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
As the towns of West Tisbury and Edgartown seek support from their taxpayers for legal fees to support their joint lawsuit concerning the roundabout, it is time for a solution. May I propose that all parties recognize that a lawsuit is not in the best interest of the taxpayers, nor the proper forum to settle this dispute.
By a mutually agreed-to settlement, I don’t see why all the parties couldn’t agree to one more hearing at the MVC, in which representatives from the two appealing towns present their case, and the other four towns have a single representative to present their opposing views. At the conclusion of the night, unless an extension is needed, a final vote is taken and all parties agree in advance to not appeal that decision, and drop the current lawsuit.
The current method will cost hundreds of thousands in legal funds, and at best, the judge will simply remand the decision back to the MVC, which is what I suggest to do now.
Paul D. Adler
DEBATE GOES ON
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Time is money, the old adage says. And thinking takes time. It’s so much easier not to waste precious time and just to ditto the emotional exclamation: “We don’t need a rotary!”
Having just circulated among holiday parties on the Vineyard, I’ve heard many exclamations about the discussion of the year: The Great Roundabout Debate.
Mostly I’ve heard exclamations, not too many thoughtful analyses of anything.
Thanks, Chris Murphy, for your factual and clear commentary published in both local newspapers.
Thanks to our neighbor who comments on the roundabouts in Marston Mills and elsewhere in communities similar to ours, communities who similarly feared the roundabout and who found it, in reality, quite helpful to traffic patterns and accident prevention.
Thanks to those who have actually read the analytical reports of people who analyze traffic patterns for a living and who were humble enough to trust those analyses. Thanks to those who have taken the time to learn the difference between a rotary and a roundabout.
As I said in the beginning, time is money. I sorely wish that those who instituted a lawsuit against the roundabout had taken the time to read the statistical analyses and take a look at roundabouts in other communities similar to ours and the results of constructing those roundabouts before committing tax dollars to legal actions that drain our paltry budgets from the ability to do other much more worthwhile things with the public money within our needy communities.
We might find that clear thinking takes a bit more time but costs us all fewer dollars in the end.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I have read and heard with increasing disgust the destructive methods employed in the campaign to build a new kitchen at the West Tisbury School. It would be nice to think the numerous inaccuracies have been made in good faith but I do not believe this to be true. There has been a deliberate distortion of facts to create drama and action. This is nothing more than a dirty campaign created by a few people whose agendas are wholly self-serving.
Claims have been made in public meetings and on various Web sites that are not only inaccurate but defamatory. These have been made by people who are both ignorant of the laws concerning the safety of food, its preparation, transport and service and clearly have malicious intent.
There appears to be two types of people involved in this campaign: those who genuinely believe that having a professional kitchen in the West Tisbury School will be beneficial to the students and those who see it as benefitting themselves. I suggest those genuine in their goals distance themselves from the destructive group. This is a small Island and memories are long.
Concerning this decision, I urge you to carefully consider the source of the information you have heard and read. Consider the motives of the author/speaker and their qualifications for their remarks. Claiming to have specific knowledge, ability or experience does not make it so.
ServSafe is the code by which the health department and its agents regulate dining establishments. The criticisms concerning the safety of the food we serve are contrary to the ServSafe code and the people making these accusations need to familiarize themselves with this. The ServSafe code specifically limits access to a kitchen in order to reduce the possible contamination of food. Have the people who have “tested” the food at the West Tisbury School washed their hands properly upon entering the kitchen, worn appropriate hair protection and shoes, used the ServSafe specified thermometers that were clean, disinfected, and properly calibrated before use? And finally, who gave them permission to perform these tests?
I am a member of the team at the high school kitchen. There are seven of us and we work under the direction of Leslie Floyd. We are employed by Chartwells, a company that has been appointed by the Martha’s Vineyard school district. Our day begins at 6 a.m., and we prepare approximately 800 meals a day for four different locations. At about 9 a.m., and sometimes as late as 9:20 a.m., we receive a call from West Tisbury giving us the number of orders for the day. By 9:35 a.m., as many as 185 meals are packed in appropriate containers and our driver leaves to deliver them.
We cannot make your children like each and every meal we prepare. I am sure they have commented negatively on plenty of meals they are served at home! However, we are absolute in our commitment to provide appetizing, nutritious, and varied meals for your children. Yes, we have made some mistakes. Yes, not everything is wonderful. We work as well as we can within the constraints of budget, time, equipment, etc.
I feel a public apology is owed primarily to Leslie Floyd and secondarily to her team. The attacks on her professional reputation are unfounded, defamatory and malicious in nature. The attackers appear to believe that the only way to achieve their goals is through a campaign of dramatic hyperbole. Perhaps this group believes that the only way to persuade the voters to approve the expenditure of close to $200,000 is to convince them their children are in danger.
The truth is far from what you have been led to believe. Leslie Floyd, a longtime Island resident, took over as director of dining services in October 2010. She has instituted enormous, positive changes in the food service program. West Tisbury students now enjoy three or four menu choices daily instead of one, including vegetarian options. Leslie also convinced Chartwells to allow local produce to be purchased, although the local farms did not meet the certification requirements of Chartwells. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute as a candidate of distinction. Not only her culinary education but her business acumen from many years in the corporate world have enabled her to create a school lunch program to be proud of, and she is just getting started.
To those people who have made false and misleading statements to the public, you are entitled to your own opinions. You are not entitled to your own facts. Stop biting the hand that feeds your children.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
On Jan. 7, we held an auction fundraiser for our friend Bethany Sylvia Haveard’s family. Bethany died suddenly on Nov. 5, leaving five children and a husband behind as well as many friends and family members. We would like to thank all who came to the auction and made the dream of helping Bethany’s family with their financial burden. A most heartfelt thank-you to all the merchants and local artists and members of the community who donated so generously. To those who attended, a special thank-you for helping to make this a great success. I would like to thank committee members Rebbeca Townes, Colleen Sylvia, Barbra Phillips, Renee Jolliffe-Connolly, and Rachael Jolliffe. Your dedication is phenomenal and uplifting. I would like to thank Jack and Pat Law for being the star auctioneers. You helped surpass our hopes. Thank you to Jimmy Flynn and Tricia Bergeron for being great sidekicks! Thank you to the Portuguese-American club for donating the venue and for all your help. Most of all to Jen Bernier-Wiggin who, for the past two months, led and organized this committee and event tirelessly. This would not have happened without you! I am happy to have had the honor of working with all of you but mostly I am proud to call you my friends.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
This is just a note to thank everyone for my “Change of Employment Status” aka retirement party last Thursday at the Ocean View. I was totally surprised and nearly speechless because you all did such a great job keeping the party a secret. Further investigation reveals that two of my coworkers, Betsy VanLandingham and Lori Perry, my wife, Denise, my sons, Brian and Peter, and my daughter in law, Beth, were the instigators. They knew I would respectfully decline such an event, if given the option, and got me to go out to dinner under the guise of celebrating Pete and Beth’s house closing.
After I got over the shock of the surprise, I really enjoyed the evening. It was especially nice to see Dr. David Babin and Dr. Thomas Gregg, the only two doctors that I worked with when I started at the hospital in 1974 that are still alive. It was nice to have a chance to catch up on old times we had in my OR days. As for the rest of the folks, my coworkers, friends, and family, you all have been a big part of my life over the last 37 years and I will never forget the good times and the hard times we have shared.
I had a good run and if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t change a thing. The fruits of my labor never put me in that one per cent financial category you’ve heard so much about lately, but I have always felt like I was a millionaire for having known and worked with all of you. Denise and I will use your generous gift for a future Patriot’s, Celtics, or Red Sox game. Thanks again, you folks are the best!