Bills in Congress put fish at risk
I was in Washington, DC last week with fishermen throughout the country advocating for the fish. The group I was with met with Rhode Island and Massachusetts senate and congressional offices to gain their insight and update each other on important fisheries issues.
The Rhode Island senators and congressmen do a good job when it comes to fisheries. In fact Senators Reed and Whitehouse have been on the forefront of not only fisheries issues but important related climate change issues such as rising water and erosion of our coastline, warming water and its impact on fish and fishing. We are in good hands in Washington.
Key issues discussed included the impact of recreational fishing. According to a NOAA study, recreational fishing has a $200-million dollar annual economic impact on the State of Rhode Island. However, three bills introduced in congress (with versions soon to be introduced in the senate) would have a major long term impact on both commercial and recreational fishing.
House bill H.R. 200, introduced by Representative Young (Alaska) and H.R. 2023, introduced by Representative Graves (Louisiana) would both liberalize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (the fishing law of this nation) allowing more fish to be taken out of the ocean for the short term financial gain of some.
These short term gains would be possible by eliminating the need for Allowable Catch Limits (ACLs) on rebuilt fish stocks. A quick assessment shows that if these bills passed, possibly all but 30 of 400 species would have Allowable Catch Limits. Fish stocks have been rebuilt in this nation in part due to Allowable Catch Limits. To eliminate them on stocks that have rebuilt could take away the gains we have made to rebuild stocks and allow species to become overfished before catch limits can be put back in place.
These bills do not put fish first, they do not grow fish to abundance for all to catch and eat but rather put fish stocks at risk for overfishing making them available for short term gain for some.
New Jersey summer flounder bill
New Jersey Congressmen LoBiondo and Pallone sponsored a bill H.R. 1411 that would prevent NOAA Fisheries (NMFS) from implementing regulations that would reduce summer flounder harvest limits.
Summer flounder spawning stock has been down for six years in a row and coastwide anglers have overfished. With this declining biomass and overfishing the Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) that regulates summer flounder coastwide found it necessary to reduce commercial and recreational harvest levels by about 30 percent in 2017.
The Magnusson-Stevens Act has given NOAA Fisheries the authority to manage the fish to grow them to abundance for all. Under this federal fishing law over 40 fish stocks have been rebuilt. Weakening Federal fishing laws would allow states motivated by self-interests and short term gains to manage fish with their best interest at heart and not the best interest of the country or the fish.
More on these bills and others as they develop in Congress.
8th Annual Customer Appreciation Day
Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, will be celebrating their 8th Annual Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday, May 13. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait said, “We plan on having a number of reps on hand from a variety of manufacturers (Penn, Calcutta and a host of others). As traditional we will have refreshments and food available (a pig roast) for customers that attend.”
Newport Boat Show awards
Newport Exhibition Group, owners and producers of the Newport International Boat Show, taking place September 14-17, are accepting applications for the 2017 Newport for New Products (NFNP) Awards.
The Awards include one for best new powerboat, sailboat and multihull; best new navigation product; and best new product for boat operation, maintenance, and safety. New for 2017 is a “Green” award for “Best Green Boat” and one for “Best Green Product”.
For information on the new product awards competition and the boat show in general visit newportboatshow.com.
Two quahog transplants… May 10 and May 11
Two quahog transplants will take place this month. On Wednesday, May 10th a transplant will take place at Greenwich Cove and a Thursday, May 11th a transplant will take place at Bristol Harbor, kicking off at the Independence Park boat ramp. Licensed commercial shellfishermen will be paid $7/50 pound bag and those assisting with dumping $10/50 pound bad. Both transplants will take place from 8 a.m. to noon.
To participate shellfishermen should report to the on-site DEM enforcement patrol boat by 8:00 a.m. on the day of the transplant. The shellfish transplant program is a cooperative effort between DEM, the Narragansett Bay Commission, the shellfish industry, and the RI Department of Health. 2017 transplant funding is provided by the Narragansett Bay Commission.
Free Fishing Weekend for freshwater
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold Free Fishing Weekend Saturday, May 6th and Sunday, May 7th. As part of the event, the public is invited to fish without a fishing license or trout conservation stamp in the state's freshwaters.
Six local ponds will be stocked with over 6,000 rainbow trout and 4,000 golden trout for the event. Stocked waters include: Peck Pond, Burrillville; Browning Mill Pond, Exeter; Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown; Upper Melville Pond, Portsmouth; Meadowbrook Pond, Richmond; and Shippee Sawmill Pond, Foster.
Anglers who catch a golden trout on free fishing weekend and throughout the season will receive a free golden trout pin. Take a picture of your catch and send it to Jessica Pena at Jessica.email@example.com.
Free fishing weekend does not apply to saltwater fishing. Freshwater fishing regulations on size and limits apply on May 6 and 7. For more information or to purchase a license, visit dem.ri.gov.
Where’s the Bite
Freshwater fishing continues to be very strong with anglers catching large and smallmouth bass. The trout bite is expected to improve this weekend with DEM stocking ponds with trout and golden trout for Free Fishing weekend. See above article for ponds to be stocked or visit dem.ri.gov. Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “Trout fishing in DEM stocked ponds is still great and customers are catching bass and pike in Chapman Pond (Westerly).”
Tautog fishing has improved this week in the Bay with anglers catching keepers with shorts mixed in, however, fishing along the southern coastal shore was not good. “Tautog fishing is good in RI but anglers have been keeping their fishing success to themselves as is the case in the spring time, but we know they are catching keepers somewhere," said Wade. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “Spring fishing locations in water 15 to 25 feet has just not been good in South County.” I fished with two anglers Saturday in the Newport and Jamestown area and had a very slow pick with two keepers and three shorts. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “We received reports of keeper tautog being caught off Newport, and all along Water Street but there are a lot of shorts mixed in.” Joe Palmer of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle said, “No major reports of blackfish being caught yet.”
Striped bass fishing in Southern RI is exploding. Conti said, “Bass fishing is phenomenal. A customer caught a 31” fish off the West Wall (Harbor of Refuge) this weekend with school bass being caught in mass at the Wall and on Matunuck and Charlestown beaches. The ponds in Charlestown, Ninigret and Narrow River are all hot too.” Anglers have caught as many as twenty school bass on an outing in Greenwich Cove (spreading to Apponaug Cove in Warwick too). “School bass with keeper bass mixed in are being caught everywhere including the Warren River, Kicketmuit River and all the way up to Pawtucket,” said Macedo. “We have a lot of school bass in the 14" to 15” range being caught but no reports of keepers really arriving yet” said Wade.
“Squid fishing is hit or miss with anglers catching as much as ½ bucket (a five gallon pail) fishing in the Newport and Jamestown,” said Macedo.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at noflukefishing.com.