I recently started a doctorate program in Zoology at the University of New Hampshire’s College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. My goal is to study the biology, ecology and fishery management of Massachusetts’ channeled whelk, also known as conch. Interest in channeled whelk is growing among fishermen in the state, resulting in more pressure on whelk populations, fishing grounds and horseshoe crabs, the primary bait for whelk. At the same time, there is a lack of substantial research on the biological aspects of the species. Through my research, I hope to promote a better understanding of the channeled whelk, with the ultimate goal of protecting the species and the local fisheries.
I’ve worked with the Martha’s Vineyard/Dukes County Fishermen Association, my sponsoring organization, in the past on an economic analysis of the whelk fishery on Nantucket Sound, which is what initially sparked my interest in pursuing additional research on this species. I plan to work with them throughout the course of my fellowship on other issues affecting the Island’s fishermen, including potential winter flounder stock enhancement.
I’m also currently involved in a movement to help distinguish locally caught seafood from products that are shipped to the Island from other places, in order to help consumers make informed choices. We’ve started by labeling locally caught lobsters with bands printed with the name of the local lobster boat and “Vineyard Wild Caught.” We’re also developing a website that will feature photos of the local lobster boats and profiles of the lobstermen. We hope that the local seafood will eventually command a slightly higher price in order to help out the Vineyard fishermen.
Vision Fellows Liz Witham and Ken Wentworth featured Shelley’s work in an episode of Film-Truth Production, Inc.’s Sustainable Martha’s Vineyard documentary series entitled ‘The Secret Lives of Conch’. View the film here: https://vimeo.com/channels/1062054/213554125