Nantucket evolved from a small farming community to be the capital of the American whaling industry to a popular resort community.

Today, the 48-square-mile island, located twenty-eight miles off the coast of Cape Cod, is home to the nation's largest concentration of eighteenth-century buildings, miles of pristine beaches, one of the largest cranberry bogs in the region and has a permanent population of 9,000 people.

In the year 1772, there were 2,800 men who sailed from Nantucket Harbor and 2,200 of these were whalemen. According to the account of one observer, "Sometimes vessels have sailed Eastward to the Coast of Africa, sometimes to the South Seas, to the Coast of Brazil, the Falkland Islands, &c., and at times Westward through the Gulf of Mexico, to Cape Horn and the Southern Capes of South America."

Whatever possessed young men and old to keep to this demanding and dangerous livelihood? Even with increased knowledge of the seas and the charting of very difficult courses into the deep and perilous oceans far beyond coastal New England, every day on board a Nantucket whaler held the potential of nasty and life-threatening surprises.


The annual June Nantucket Harbormaster Meeting

Five Primary Areas of Responsibility of the Harbormaster

1. Harbor Management: Operate the Town's 60 slip marina, seasonal transient slips and pump out facilities. Permit and inspect 1250 private moorings, negotiate and monitor the 125 rental mooring contract. Perform search and rescue missions, fire fighting and oil spill response throughout all waters of Nantucket. Deploy and maintain 52 navigational aids. Make recommendations to the Board of Selectmen for competing uses of harbor water resource areas.

2. Law Enforcement: Enforce state and local boating laws, safety regulations, boat registration, jetskis, speeding. Enforce fisheries (three mile limit) and shellfishing state and local laws, Issue 1800 non-commercial shellfish permits, patrol and regulate 100 commercial bay scallop boats for a five month season. Post and patrol all areas open/closed to shellfishing.

3. Water Quality: Maximize the number of non-commercial and commercial shellfish beds open to the public. Perform water sampling and analysis for all waters of Nantucket including Tukernuck and Muskeget Islands. Maintain parameters outlined for the continuance of a Federal No-Discharge Zone with emphasis on education and enforcement, Coordinate Title V sampling with the Health Department to reduce the number of septic sources of pollution. Monitor single source and ground water run off pollution points.

4. Beach-Pond Management: Hire, train and supervise a seasonal staff of (34) lifeguards to protect the guarded Town beaches, Rescue individuals endangered while swimming, provide first aid and coordinate missing person searches with other agencies. Continuously check barrier beaches for marine mammal stranding events and monitor areas for endangered species prior to pond opening and dredging activities. Issue beach stickers and provide educational materials to individuals driving on the authorized beaches. Monitor the great ponds in support of home rule legislation. Maintain or improve natural habitat for indigenous species.

5. Support-Maintenance: Provide technical assistance to state and local agencies upon request in the development of recommendations for environmental issues. Review RFP's, ENF's, EIR's of selected project areas of critical concern. Maintain department buildings, piers, boats and equipment, year round basis. Develop bid specifications and coordinate grant awards and monitor contract performance. (NREP, Aquafarm, EOCD, FEMA and major repairs to department structures)

Nantucket Harbormaster

Cape Cod Fisherman's Alliance

Mass Environmental Police

U.S. Coast Guard
Cape Cod Office Contact Info

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
New England District
696 Virginia Road
Concord, MA 01742