At the Sept. 11 meeting of the East Hampton Town Board it was announced that Montauk’s Viking Fleet wants to berth its Viking Stariper, the fleet’s smallest party boat, at a town-owned bulkhead at the end of Gann Road on Three Mile Harbor.
The 65-foot boat, built in 1957 and formerly known as the Jigger, would operate from Commercial Dock during April, May, and June in and around Gardiner’s Bay. With the approval of the town board, the Stariper would begin fishing from Three Mile Harbor in the spring.
“There’s the early fluke run off Greenport, and porgy season opens in May,” Paul Forsberg, the fleet’s owner, said on Monday. He said the Stariper would carry no more than 20 anglers at a time.
Mr. Forsberg said customers would board the boat by reservation only, “so there will be no crowds gathering.”
However, the idea was not immediately embraced by the town board. Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said that Gann Road had always been a dock for commercial fisherman. He said allowing the Stariper to tie up there would make it a “retail” dock.
“You’re not selling fish, you’re selling the chance to catch fish,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said.
Town Clerk Fred Overton told the board there was only one slip available. The owners of commercial fishing vessels pay the town $20 per foot of boat length for a season’s docking.
Much of the space at Commercial Dock is taken up by a steel barge that was bought by East Hampton Town several years ago to help with mooring placement and dock repairs. Mr. Overton said that the only way more room could be found there for commercial fishing vessels would be to move it elsewhere.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said it was possible that the barge could be sold.
Mr. Overton also voiced concern about the number of parking spaces available at the Gann Road dock.
“Then I say we kick the can until we study this,” Mr. Wilkinson suggested to his fellow board members.
In other Three Mile Harbor news, a small bloom of one type of “red tide” algae showed up in its southern reaches last week. East Hampton Town officials are keeping a close watch on patches of Cochlodinium polykrikoides near the Head of the Harbor.
“This is not the one that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning, but it is toxic to shellfish and finfish, but only in high densities,” Stephanie Forsberg, an East Hampton Town trustee and marine scientist, said yesterday.
“It looks like streaks in the water. You could have a bloom three feet wide, and next to it, nothing. Fish can swim out of it, but shellfish can’t. We hope it won’t affect the scallop season,” Ms. Forsberg said.
She said that the fall’s dropping water temperatures would likely keep colonies from expanding. So far, blooms have been seen at the south end of Three Mile Harbor and outside Hand’s Creek.
Ms. Forsberg said this was not the first time Cochlodinium has been seen in the harbor.
Bill Fonda, a spokesman for the State Department of Environmental Conservation, said his agency would be monitoring the bloom, which can thrive in nitrogen-rich waters.
Larry Penny, former director of the town’s Natural Resources Department, went to look at the bloom and said he thought the county’s failure to dredge the channel to the south end of the harbor last year was at least partly to blame for it.
“As a town, we are going to have to look into septic systems and all nitrogen sources,” Ms. Forsberg said.