by Capt. Dave Monti
Licensing regulations addressed at workshop
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reviewed proposed commercial and party and charter boat licensing regulation changes at a workshop held at the University of Rhode Island (URI) last week. Items on the agenda included commercial fishing licensing language changes designed to make regulations more succinct.
Additionally, shark permit regulations in state and a proposal that would make electronic reporting mandatory for party and charter vessels was reviewed.
The aim of mandatory electronic reporting would be to capture better effort data from the for-hire sector resulting from using actual trips instead of estimates. Long-term benefits could include flexible management programs specifically for the for-hire sector. Presently eighty percent of ‘active vessels” holding federal permits in RI already do electronic trip reports as a Federal requirement.
Noncompliance with the electronic reporting requirement in RI would result in denial of next year’s license. The proposed program would take effect no sooner than 2019. Public input is being sought to present to the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) at the June 26 meeting.
Visit www.dem.ri.gov for the May 23 workshop presentation that outlines all proposed commercial and for-hire license changes.
Anglers want buffer zone for trawlers
Fifty fishermen attended the Atlantic herring public hearing last week at the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett. Of the approximately eighteen comments, fifteen advocated for recognizing herring as a forage fish when considering catch limits. Most of those testifying were recreational anglers.
The creation of a buffer zone of 25 miles where large mid water trawlers are not allowed to fish for Atlantic herring was suggested by most.
Steve Medeiros, president and executive director of RISAA testified at the hearing and said, “We support a healthy population of Atlantic herring and believe that catch limits should account for their role in the ecosystem as a forage fish.”
The New England Fishery Management Council scheduled a series of public hearings on Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan. The purpose of the hearings is to solicit comments on the amendment’s two major components including alternatives to establish a long-term acceptable biological catch (ABC) control rule that accounts for herring’s role in the ecosystem and alternatives to address potential localized depletion and user conflicts.
Greg Vespe, president of the Aquidneck Island Striper Team said, “We support a buffer zone that extends 25 miles offshore in Rhode Island and along the coast. The 25 mile buffer is important to help prevent localized depletion and user conflicts considering the major role herring plays around Block Island and Cox Ledge as forage fish for striped bass, cod, tuna, whales and other species.”
Two Massachusetts hearings were planned, one this week in Gloucester and a second hearing in Chatham, MA, Tuesday, June 19, 6:00 p.m. at the Chatham Community Center, 702 Main Street.
There is also a Webinar Hearing scheduled for Wednesday, June 20, starting at 2 p.m. Registration is required to participate. In addition, a call-in option is available to join the webinar. For details see press release at https://www.nefmc.org/library/amendment-8-2.
The deadline for submitting written comments is Monday, June 25 at 5:00 p.m. The New England Council will address herring Amendment 8 at their September 25-27, 2018 meeting in Plymouth, MA.
Ocean farms in the wind
The States of Rhode Island and Massachusetts announced on May 23 that they will be going into contract negotiations for 1200 megawatts (MW) of ocean wind farm power generation. The Block Island Wind Farm pilot project, the first ocean wind farm in the nation, with five turbines is 30 MW. So by comparison these projects are a lot larger.
The State of Rhode Island will enter contract negotiations with Deepwater Wind to procure 400 MW of power, and Massachusetts will enter contract negotiations with Vineyard Wind to procure 800 MW of energy. Both projects will be located in areas where the firms have already been granted leases off Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
In December of 2017, over 50 scientists presented their research findings about the Block Island Wind Farm (BIW) at the Southern New England Offshore Wind Energy Science Forum held at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography in Narragansett, RI. The BIW was viewed as having no remarkable adverse effects on the environment, fish, mammals, birds and people.
However, fishermen in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have expressed concerns about where actual turbines will be placed as they will impact fishing activity. Most fishermen have expressed support for wind farms when planned properly. Recreational anglers say they create structure, habitat, and food for sea life that attracts fish. They attract fish much the same way that oil drilling platforms have attracted fish in the Gulf of Mexico.
Shortly after the State of RI announced plans, a conference call with recreational and commercial fishing industry leaders took place. State of Rhode Island officials stressed that that the State plans to move forward with fishermen input every step of the way on the project.
Governor Raimondo and state officials were praised on the conference call for bringing ocean wind energy to Rhode Island in a big way. By collaborating regionally on efforts to lower electricity costs, increase reliability, improve fuel security, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are working to bring clean, local offshore wind to New England’s electric grid. More to come on ocean wind farms as these projects are developed and planned with fishermen input.
Where’s the bite?
fishing is heating up. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Fish 34” and larger are being caught from Bear Point, Prudence Island all the way up the Providence River.” School size striped bass are still in our Bays and Covers and being caught using surface and swimming hard and soft plastic lures. Anglers are meeting success with umbrella rigs too. Capt. Randy Bagwell of River Rebel Charts took five veterans out on a Veterans Angler Charter trip this week and found the bass in Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bays. Capt. Bagwell said, “Find the pogies and you’ll find the bass. Earlier this week they were in Mt. Hope Bay and off the west side of Prudence Island.” Bob Grillo of Maridee Bait & Canvas, Narragansett, said, “Customers are catching keeper striped bass at Narrow River and from the West Wall and short wall in Galilee they are catching striped bass with bluefish mixed in.”
(fluke) have made their appearance know in the Bay already with anglers landing keeper fish at the Jamestown, Newport and Mr. Hope bridges. In one hour Saturday, I hooked up with five fluke south of the Jamestown Bridge; all were between 16 and 18 inches. The minimum size for fluke is 19” with a six fish/angler/day limit (I reported last week that it was a seven fish limit which was not correct). Capt. Randy Bagwell of River Rebel Charters hooked up his veteran’s charter group with fluke earlier this week at Sakonnet Point.
The Scup and the tautog
bite is on along the coastal shores from jetties in South County and in the Bay just about any place there is water movement and/or structure close by. Bob Grillo of Maridee Bait & Canvas said, “The scup and tautog bite has been good at Pt. Judith Light.” Tautog season closes this Thursday, May 31 for the spawning season and reopens again August 1.