Begun in the 1930’s by Martha’s Vineyard native John Hughes, the historic Massachusetts State Lobster Hatchery in Oak Bluffs evolved into a world-renowned facility for its cutting edge research and developments in lobster biology and culture. A combination of warming seawater temperatures that made the facility less than ideal for its original purpose and state budget cuts led to the curtailment of culture activities about 15 years ago.
In 2010, efforts were made by state and local officials to resurrect aquaculture operations at the Lobster Hatchery. Because the ambient seawater temperatures are now too warm for the facility to grow lobsters, a new aquaculture mission in the rapidly expanding field of bivalve shellfish (clams, scallops, oysters) aquaculture was proposed. After touring the MV Shellfish Group’s (MVSG) successful operation, the Division of Marine Fisheries approached us about a cooperative venture that would bring back the Lobster Hatchery as a center for aquaculture research and provide us with more space to conduct our shellfish culture activities. DMF proposed that they would spend a large sum of money to upgrade the facility to our needs if we would agree to come up with the staff to expand our operations into the renovated Lobster Hatchery.
In these times of lean town budgets (MVSG has not increased its request from its member towns in 4 years); concerns were expressed about our ability to fund a staff at this new satellite operation. The MVSG Board realizing the great promise of the Lobster Hatchery to the future of aquaculture development on Martha’s Vineyard agreed that this was an opportunity too good to pass up. Their belief was that the Martha’s Vineyard community would rally and find funding for reopening and operating the Lobster Hatchery, a much-beloved Island institution. Today we have received news that the Permanent Endowment has granted us $6,000 for this purpose, sufficient fundsto take advantage of this emerging opportunity.
We would like to thank the Permanent Endowment for supporting this projectand believe that the reopening of the Lobster Hatchery and the additional seed shellfish produced willcreate significant educational and economic opportunities for the residents and visitors of Martha’s Vineyard.