The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) held commercial fluke (summer flounder), scup/black sea bass and herring advisory panel meetings on October 2 in preparation for a Thursday, November 8, 2012 public hearing. The purpose of the advisory panels is to provide industry (fishermen) and the general public with the opportunity to offer input and proposals to be considered at public hearing.
Advisory panels reviewed Department of Environmental Management (DEM) presentations on stock assessment, historical fishing activity and allocations. The November 8th public hearing on proposed management plan changes is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at the University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography, Corless Auditorium, South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI. Commercial and recreational fishermen are urged to attend and provide input on proposals.
Fluke (summer flounder) advisory panel meeting highlights
Summer flounder stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, the fishery is considered rebuilt.
RI quota for 2013 will likely be 1.796 million pounds, a decrease of approximately 11% from 2012 quota.
A status quo proposal (same quotas/regulations as last year).
The Marine Fisheries Division made a proposal to shorten the summer season to May 1 through September 15, but keeping the quota percentage the same for this period at 35%. The proposed change would allow inshore commercial fishermen the opportunity to take advantage of the stock when it was close to shore.
A change in starting possession limits were also proposed (see recommendations at www.dem.ri.gov).
Additionally, the fluke advisory panel approved moving a RI fluke sector fishing plan forward to public hearing. The proposal would allow the program to run for one year under the 2011 proposal plan and agreement guidelines giving DEM time to consider departmental policy on alternate fisheries management approaches.
Meeting participants applauded the sector's track record for reducing discards at historically low levels and the program's financial benefit to even non program members. Non sector fishermen received the benefit of higher market prices in part due to a consistent supply of fish to the market, spreading available fish over a longer time period when they are not ordinarily available.
Scup advisory panel meeting highlights
Biological reference points indicate that the scup stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.
Recruitment actually exceeded the 1984-2011 average of 104 million in 2011. So the stock is in good shape moving forward. DEM proposed enhancing limits from 5,000 lbs/wk on May 1, 2012 to 50,000 lbs/wk on September 15, 2012.
The RI 2013 commercial quota is generally 56.19% of the coastwide summer allocation, so for 2013 this would be 4,995,284 lbs, a 16% decrease from our 2012 quota, however, scup landed in 2012 was well below quota.
Scup proposals included a status quo proposal as well as a Marine Fisheries Division proposal to increase the starting aggregate limits in an effort to keep up with the high level of quota. These limits would increase to 10,000 lbs/wk.
Black sea bass (BSB) highlights
The stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.
2011 recruitment was 21 million fish, this year and recent years have been near average recruitment.
Three closings occurred in 2012 to ensure that RI did not overfish its quota.
RI's share of the Coastwide commercial quota in 2013 will likely be 189,827 lbs which is a 1% increase in quota from 2012.
Fishermen (both commercial and recreational representatives) at the advisory panel meeting testified to the abundance of black sea bass (inshore and offshore) at a variety of sizes.
DEM recommended no changes to the black sea bass commercial fishery in 2013, however, (due in part from fishermen input on an abundance of stock) fish managers related the stock can likely accommodate more harvest and they will continue to improve estimates in the stock assessment and continue to improve the stock assessment itself so that harvest levels can be increased in the future.
The second BSB proposal was from the RI Commercial Rod & Reel Association (RICRRA) pertaining to spring and summer sub-period adjustments to insure the season remain open to offer a consistent supply of product to dealers. The proposal called for a deceased starting possession limits to 25 pounds per day, May through October. A third proposal called for a decreased starting possession limit, increased minimum size, and changed sub periods. The fourth proposal increased starting possession limits to 100 pounds per day, May through October.
A fifth proposal set aggregate limits in spring and summer periods.
Atlantic herring ad hoc panel meeting highlights
DEM Atlantic herring fishery regulation proposals include a river herring by catch allowance of 5% (which would allow in state and out-of state boats to land their catch in RI, 0% by-catch allowance was the case in 2012. Zero tolerance discouraged commercial fishermen from landing their catch in RI). The second major recommendation by DEM provides for a closure of state waters to herring boats if it is deemed that an area will likely have 5% or more of river herring.
These proposed amendments come with a lot of qualifying details, the plan (Part VII - Section 7.19; pages 65-66) can be found online at www.dem.ri.gov.
After the November 8th public hearing the proposed regulatory changes to species management plans along with input from the public will be presented to the RIMFC for consideration. The council then votes on the proposed recommendations/changes and forwards its recommendations to DEM director Janet Coit for consideration.
Where's the bite
Striped bass fishing is very good for anglers all along the southern coastal shores of Rhode Island. Steve McKenna noted RI shore angler and associate at Quaker Lane Outfitters, North Kingstown, said, "Shore fishing has been the best in years.
Since the end of August I have caught bass to 40 lbs in the surf using plugs at Narragansett. There is so much bait around… peanut bunker, needle fish, silversides and more mullet than I have ever seen before." Ken Landry of Ray's Bait & Tackle, Warwick, said, "Customers are catching some nice bass out in from of Brenton Reef and Beavertail using eels as well as tube & worm." John Littlefield of Archie's Bait and Tackle, East Providence, said, "Customers Albert and Kevin Bettencourt of East Providence are doing well with bass at night drifting eels in the Bay."
Tautog fishing is good but anglers have to work their way through a lot of shorts and an awful lot of small black sea bass to earn keeper tautog. John Wunner of John's Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said anglers are catching ten short tautog to everyone keeper. Angler Brian Beltrami said he weighted in an 8.95 lbs. tautog at Quaker Lane Outfitters Saturday that he caught in Narragansett Bay using green crabs (when weighed in the fish was in 1st place in the RISAA tautog fishing tournament). John Littlefield of Archie's Bait said, "Anglers are catching tautog all over the Bay but there are a lot of shorts mixed in." Ken Landry of Ray's Bait & Tackle said the tautog are at Hope Island, General Rock and this week some anglers are catching them off the Rocky Point dock in Warwick.
Bluefish are roaming the Bay and coastal shores. John Littlefield of Archie's Bait said, "One customer had ten fish in the six to twelve pound range lined up on shore at Sabine Point". Ken Landry of Ray's Bait and Steve McKenna shore angler said the blues are mixed in with the bass along southern coastal shores.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain's master license, a charter fishing license, and is a member of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council. Your fishing photos in JPEG from, stories, comments and questions are welcome… there's more than one way to catch a fish. Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com ; his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.