Editors’ Letter: High Summer 2020

—Claire Callagy

Dear Edible Vineyard readers:

As we headed into summer this year, we didn’t know what to expect. Will we have a season? With everything canceled — from the Taste of the Vineyard, the Fourth of July parade and fireworks, the MV Agricultural Fair,  Beach Road Concert — would people still come to Martha’s Vineyard?

To our surprise, the Island is full. People are renting homes or returning to their summer homes and staying for weeks, even months.  They say they feel safe here, able to relax and take in the natural beauty and simplicity that the Island has to offer. Farm stands and the West Tisbury Farmers Market are busier than ever. People gather in separated groups at Lambert’s Cove Beach for sunset and a dip in Island’s biggest attraction, the surrounding ocean. 

We are envloped by the sea, sitting in the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf between the Gulf of Maine and the Mid-Atlantic. Into the spectacular blue-green body of water, we gaze, we play, we swim, we fish, and we sail off into the sunset. We nourish our appetites and our bodies with the incredible edible creatures that we saute, steam, fry, bake, and eat raw. 

With all the ocean gives us, how is the ocean doing? Is it healthy? How are the creatures that inhabit the sea doing? Temperatures rise, and impacts such as acidification, pollution, and overfishing, make us wonder: Where are we at? Jesse Ausubel, an environmental scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, swims most days at the Inkwell, and from the water samples he collects can determine how many fish are in the area. Sam Moore talked with him about the perils and promise we confront in the sea surrounding us. 

We are aware enough of how delicate our symbiotic relationship to the sea is to pause when we need to: Janet Messineo tells writer (and fisherman) Gavin Smith she agrees with the new no-striped-bass rule in the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. And size limits for non-Derby fishing have changed as well: young bass under 28 inches can stay in the ocean to grow, and the large breeders more than 35 inches must be thrown back as well. 

We continue to reinvent our fishing industry, as with our innovative oyster farmers who have built a thriving, sustainable industry on Island waters; and a scallop boat owner seeking to make his trips to scallop beds more environmentally sustainable. 

We celebrate their ingenuity, the fish they give us, the fish we save, and the balance we find moving forward.

Tina Miller and Jamie Kageleiry