Anchors away for maritime center, bridge fishing reeled in

May 19, 2020

The maritime center in Padanaram will open for the season this weekend, while daytime fishing off the bridge and causeway will be prohibited during the pandemic.

Signs have been placed on the bridge to let people know that fishing is not allowed from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. until further notice, Harbormaster Steve Melo noted at a Waterways Management Commission meeting on May 19.

The new rule was put in place by a Select Board vote last week due to an increase in pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the bridge due to the pandemic. Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes noted that the ban intended to alleviate safety concerns associated with the foot traffic.

“People are walking by, bicyclists are getting hooked by a fisherman as they go back,” said Select Board member Shawn McDonald last week.

Melo told the Waterways Management Commission about the new rules and signage, as members were unaware of any bans, noting that they saw people fishing over the weekend.

The harbormaster explained that the daytime fishing ban is not enforced by Waterways or DPW, but is up to the police to enforce.

Meanwhile, although the maritime center is set to open from Saturday, any upgrades to the center’s waste pump will await confirmation of Clean Vessel Act funding in July, Melo said.

Melo told the Waterways Management Commission that after the new dock was installed at the center they were advised the angles and rise would be too much for the current waste pump. 

“It’s a wait and see game,” he said. “We’re going to have to proceed with the pump that we’ve got and limit our use to high tide until this is resolved.”

Members of the commission said they would like to see pump upgrades as soon as possible. 

“Damn the torpedoes, we’ll pay for it later,” said member Roger Race. “This is critical to keep our harbor clean.”

Member Patricia Sweriduk agreed, noting that the virus could be excreted in waste.

“If we don’t have something that works, we’re going to have a problem in the harbor,” she said.

Commission Chair Gerald Hickey also said during the meeting that he has noticed a lot more cars at the Dias Landing boat launch.

“It’s gotten to the point where I’ve seen more cars there than at any point,” Melo agreed, reminding residents that only cars with Massachusetts license plates are allowed to use the boat ramp.

“It doesn't matter that you may own 12 houses or 20 houses in Massachusetts,” he said.