For Immediate Release - June 19, 2014

Patrick Administration Celebrates Ribbon Cutting at Oak Bluffs Fishing Pier

OAK BLUFFS – Thursday, June 19, 2014 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Undersecretary for Environment Martin Suuberg today joined other state environmental officials and saltwater anglers to celebrate the grand opening of the $1 million Oak Bluffs Fishing Pier on Martha’s Vineyard. The pier, located close to the Steamship Authority Pier and other ferry services in Oak Bluffs Harbor, is the largest recreational fishing pier in Massachusetts.

“The location and design of this pier make it accessible to day-tourists, children from both on and off the island and anglers who may find it difficult to fish from jetties or out of the way beaches,” said Undersecretary Suuberg.

Project construction was overseen by the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Office of Fishing and Boating Access (FBA) with assistance from the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant sport fishing pier extends 317 feet from the seawall into Nantucket Sound and includes a 60 foot long section parallel to the shoreline.

“I talk to a lot of recreational anglers, many whom believe better fishing access should be a top priority,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. “We at DFG agree and are proud of this great, new resource for the residents of Martha’s Vineyard and a unique amenity for the tourism industry in the Town of Oak Bluffs.”

Funds for the project include approximately $580,000 from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act reimbursement grant secured by DMF through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program (SFR). About $188,000 of project funds came from Massachusetts recreational saltwater fishing permit sales. The $10 charge for individual permits, collected by DMF, along with donations and charter boat permit revenue accrued more than $1.2 million in Massachusetts in 2013 for fisheries research, conservation and public access projects.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud to support efforts by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to provide fishing opportunities for its citizens through our Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program,” said John Organ, Northeast Chief, Division of Sport Fish Restoration, USFWS. “Massachusetts is a leader in conserving lands for wildlife and creating opportunities for people to fish and enjoy nature. This legacy is the result of contributions from the sportsmen and women of Massachusetts and the state’s dedicated fish and wildlife professionals."

Project construction was supported by the Town of Oak Bluffs and the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association, as well as saltwater recreational fishing groups throughout Massachusetts. The Town of Oak Bluffs will be responsible for day-to-day operations and maintenance, public safety and policing at the pier. The facility will provide easy access from shore and the opportunity to catch striped bass, bluefish, flounder, tautog, black sea bass and other fish passing through the area.

“This project is great for our Town because it provides every day citizens with high-quality access to our beautiful oceanfront, which really is a valuable amenity and a big part of our island experience,” said Gregory Coogan, Chairman of the Oak Bluffs Board of Selectmen. “We’re very thankful to the state agencies and everyone who worked on the project.”

The project was also supported by the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Panel, a citizen advisory group established to assist DMF in recreational fisheries management. The panel was established to provide oversight on spending the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund; all recreational saltwater permit fee revenues and donations are deposited in the fund to be used solely for research, conservation and public access efforts for Massachusetts’ saltwater recreational fisheries.

“This is a model project and shows what can be done for shore anglers in Massachusetts with the cooperation of cities and towns,” said DFG Office of Fishing and Boating Access Director Jack Sheppard. “I would like thank Doug Cameron of my staff and Ross Kessler of the Division of Marine Fisheries and recognize Atlantic Support Installations, Inc. and CLE Engineering Company, Inc. for their great work on this project.”

“The new fishing pier in Oak Bluffs has been a highly anticipated and important addition to the great improvements that have already been made to the downtown shoreline. All of this has been accomplished through the efforts and foresight of the current and past Selectmen for the Town of Oak Bluffs and so many others and I commend them all on their hard work. Fishing piers, such as this one, don’t just provide a practical function, but create memories that are passed down for generations,” said Rep. Tim Madden.

The Oak Bluffs Fishing Pier will complement improvements planned for the North Bluff sea wall and boardwalk. EEA awarded the town of Oak Bluffs $3.6 million in January to repair the damaged North Bluff. That grant is part of a total of $8.5 million in outside funding for Oak Bluffs, a figure that includes $1.9 million in seaport improvement money from the state Seaport Advisory Council, and $2 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance.

DFG is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

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