2017 Meeting Recap
Over 90 WFA members and friends celebrated Valentine’s Day this year by enjoying delicious homemade oyster stew and apple pie at St. John the Baptist Church in Westport. After the supper, Project Coordinator Tanja Ryden opened the Westport Fishermen’s Annual Meeting to elect new officers for 2017 and update the organization bylaws. The officers who were voted in are: President Jack Reynolds, VP Don Dufault, Treasurer Paul Heywood and Secretary Chris Dunn. Paul takes over as Treasurer from Tom Perkins, who served in that role for many years. Thanks Tom!
The annual report for 2016 was presented, with the discussion focused on the salt marsh study. Tanja thanked those who contributed to funding the study to pay for the summer intern who collected the raw data. The Buzzards Bay Coalition, which was a lead partner, will be publishing the final report, which will be distributed locally and posted online.
Consistent with recently published findings for the entire East Coast, the study has documented the Westport River salt marsh islands are in a worrisome decline. Due to funding and time constraints, we limited the study to the West Branch but the trends are probably generalizable to the East Branch as well. Not surprisingly, as with all of nature, there are multiple factors at work causing the loss of salt marsh. Sea level rise due to climate change is significant. But another culprit is the excess nitrogen in the river, which comes from septic systems, stormwater runoff and agricultural use. Going forward the WFA will be putting its energy toward strategies to reduce lawn fertilizer use and upgrading septic systems to remove more nitrogen.
The evening wrapped up with a showing of ‘The Last Bay Scallop?” about the Nantucket scallop fishery, which also is feeling the negative effects of excess nitrogen in the water.