Oak Bluffs Shark Tournament Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Moving To Newport


CapeCodOnine.comThe shark tournament will be back — but not in Oak Bluffs.

In the wake of the tragic death of Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament director Steve James in January, his family has decided to continue the tradition with a shark tournament in Newport, R.I., July 17 through 20, according to state shark expert Greg Skomal.

Martell’s hotel was the de facto headquarters for the tournament, which James estimated brought as much as $4.5 million to the town’s economy. At its peak, the tournament drew nearly 300 boats with big cash prizes.

“The town wasn’t in the mood,” Vail said. Town meeting voted 64-40 in April to support a nonbinding resolution to make the annual shark tournament a catch-and-release event.

“I’m looking forward to trying this on for size,” Vail said.

The Monster Shark Tournament had been held in Oak Bluffs for 27 years, but in recent years drew fire from animal rights groups and locals. The weigh-in, when boats returned at day’s end with their catch, attracted big crowds to the Oak Bluffs harbor docks. The weekend crowds sometimes became rowdy, to the point the town imposed additional fees on tournament participants to pay for keeping the peace.

“This hysteria took over,” said Wesley Hotel owner Peter Martell of the votes against the tournament. He blamed the behavior of onlookers.

“They should have been controlled,” he said.

“It was too bad to lose him,” Martell said of James. “Everybody had a good time.”

He said the jury is still out on whether a fishing tournament without sharks will draw crowds and business.

“I don’t see them getting a lot that first year,” said Skomal, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries shark scientist. He used to spend his summer weekends going to fishing tournaments to collect data and samples for scientific study. Sharks are caught relatively close to shore, but big game fish such as marlins, tuna and swordfish are found far out to sea in areas close to the Gulf Stream where there are deep underwater canyons. The larger vessels required for a roundtrip of 200 miles or more are beyond most budgets and use a lot of fuel, he said.

I know that was a long excerpt, but I wanted it all there so we could break the entire thing down into one sentence;

The town of Oak Bluffs was “not in the mood” to host an event that “attracted big crowds” where “everybody had a good time” and brings “$4.5 million to the town’s economy”. Seems legit.

I mean why on earth would anyone want big crowds and large quick injections of cash into the local businesses of a vacation destination area? It only fundamentally contradicts the basic foundation of our economic survival. I get it though, big crowds having a good time are just awful. I’m sure Indiana is working on a way to ban the Indy 500 as we speak and I’d imagine that New York will be cancelling the Macy’s Parade ASAP right?

Newport must not have any experience with these large crowds of people having a good time. They will probably cancel this event after one year. There’s no way they can know what they are in for, it’s not like they have any big Folk Festivals or anything.

It is absolutely exhausting keeping up with all the ways the fun police are literally killing Cape Cod.

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