The Commonwealth of Massachusetts plays an important role in supporting recreational fishing activity in the northeast region of the United States. In fact, about half of all regional participation occurs here. Nearly 700,000 men, women and children are estimated to participate in saltwater fishing in our tidal waters each year.
While the type of fishing and species sought often will determine the fishing mode, may it be from boat or shore, boating accounts for the most significant share of the overall recreational catch. This is understandable given the mobility of the boating fleet and its ability to use technology to find fish. Boating, however, although it provides the platform for recreational activities other than fishing, is an expensive proposition for most of the Commonwealth's anglers. Consequently, about half of all saltwater recreational fishing trips take place from shore. MarineFisheries has identified a need for the Commonwealth to aquire lands, build infrastructure and develop management plans to further enhance public access to our tidal waters for our shore-based sport fishermen.
Massachusetts has a respectable history in providing public access to our boating community. Much of this work has been accomplished through our Department's Public Access Board (PAB) by building boat launch facilities. The PAB takes full advantage of the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration funds to develop these boating facilities.
We began the effort of developing better shore-based public access with our purchase of over 100 acres of beachfront on Martha's Vineyard in 1993. The land on Chappaquiddick Island, commonly known as East Beach, protects 1.5 miles of ocean shore frontage. The beach links the 200-acre Wasque Reservation and the 500-acre Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, both owned by The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees), a state-wide private land conservation organization. We manage the property with the assistance of The Trustees so that a coordinated ecological management effort is applied to the entire barrier beach ecosystem.
Another MarineFisheries site on Martha's Vineyard is Dogfish Bar, located in Lobsterville along Oxcart Road. The beach provides shore fishing access to Vineyard Sound, however, an official parking space has yet to be developed at this site. Our third site is located at Craven's Landing in East Sandwich. This site provides access to Scorton's Creek.