Rhody Fly Rodders donate $500 to Reel Recovery

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The Rhode Fly Rodders, the oldest saltwater fly fishing club in America, donated $500 to Reel Recovery at its December meeting. Reel Recovery is a national organization that sponsors fly fishing retreats for men living with cancer.

Peter Nilsen, president of the Rhody Fly Rodders, said, “We raised the funds by tying nearly 200 fishing flies and selling them at fishing shows we attended throughout 2016. Project Healing Waters, an organization that aims to get wounded and disable veterans involved with fly tying and fly fishing, has been designated as next year’s charity.”

For information about the Rhody Fly Rodders, contact Peter Nilsen at pdfish@fullchannel.net.

We need to put fish first in 2017

It’s Dec. 29 and I just finished organizing the garage with all the gear taken from the boat, but the fish are still on my mind.

I often think about the fish and how important it is to grow them to abundance so there are more fish for all to catch and eat. I realize in 2017, more than ever before, we need to push an agenda that puts fish first. We should be responsive to the community of fishermen that depend on the fish, but the needs of large industries and other user groups that rely on the fish for financial gain should take a back seat.

In 2017, we need a fish-first agenda or someday there may be no fish left to catch.

Like any time in history, 2017 can be the best of times or the worst of times for the fish. Climate change, acidification, overfishing by world nations and changing federal strategies could make it the worst of times for the fish. On the other hand, advocates like you and me that advance science-based policies to manage ecosystems and the fish to abundance could make it the best of times. We, who have a passion for the fish, need to be diligent in 2017.

We need to be active and talk about the fish to friends, family and government leaders. It is important that they know how passionate we are about the fish. To the best of our ability, we need to make an effort to understand what is happening to the environment and the fish, and then take that second step of communicating it to others to impact policy.

What’s there to talk about when advocating for the fish?

Every day scientists, fish managers, fishermen and fishing communities are discovering new and better ways to understand the fish, their environment and how to manage them to abundance. Regulations and initiatives that allow fish to grow, like the ones mentioned below, were made possible by a strong Magnuson-Stevens Act that gives the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the authority to manage our fish.

Climate change, warming water and its impact on the fish

Climate change and warming water impact fish, but how fish react to it is important. Some species have the ability to move away from the effects of warming water and others don’t. Some species like the warm water and it produces greater abundance (like black sea bass in the northeast), yet others like cold water fish leave the area if they can. Species that cannot leave become less abundant and could eventually disappear from the area (sea scallops and ocean quahogs).

A study released by the NOAA early in 2016 titled the “Northeast Climate Vulnerability Assessment” sheds some light on how 82 species in northeast waters are impacted by climate change.

Dr. Jonathan Hare of East Greenwich, one of the world’s most respected scientists studying climate change and its impact on fish, was the lead author of the study. He was recently appointed director of NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC).

“Our method identifies specific attributes that influence marine fish and invertebrate resilience to the effects of a warming ocean and characterizes risks posed to individual species. The study will help us better account for the effects of warming waters on our fishery species in stock assessments and when developing fishery management measures,” said Dr. Hare.

The study further explains what is happening in the northeast with warm water fish being more abundant and cold water fish less abundant.

Summer flounder regulations for 2017, a bitter but necessary pill to swallow

At a public hearing on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 6 p.m., fishermen can express their point of view on proposed summer flounder (fluke) fishing regulation options that will drastically reduce catch limits in Rhode Island and along the coast. The hearing will take place at the URI Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium, South Ferry Road, Narragansett.

Some regulation options cut the recreational allowable catch in Rhode Island in half from eight to four fish, increase the minimum size from 18 to 19 inches and reduce the number of fishing days.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) modified specifications for summer flounder, reducing harvest limits in 2017 for both recreational and commercial fisheries by about 30 percent. Combine this with penalties for overfishing in 2016 and it can translate to over a 40 percent reduction for some coastal states.

A 2016 assessment update indicated that summer flounder spawning stock biomass has been on a downward trend for the last six years. Summer flounder has been experiencing overfishing since 2008. In 2015, fishing mortality exceeded its threshold (the level beyond which overfishing is occurring) by 26 percent. The 2015 estimate of spawning stock biomass (SSB) is at 58 percent of the biomass target, and only 16 percent above the threshold.

The ASMFC said in a press release, “These results appear to be driven largely by below-average recruitment, an underestimation of the fishing mortality level in the last years of the assessment, and declining biomass indices.”

Visit www.asmfc.org for a copy of the “Summer Flounder Draft Addendum XXVIII,’ which relates stock status and regulation options being proposed. Public comments on the Addendum will be taken at the hearing and accepted by email until Jan. 19, 5 p.m., at Krootes-murdy Summer Flounder Draft Addendum XXVIII.

Workshop on striped bass, menhaden, tautog and bluefish

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold a pre-hearing workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 5 p.m., at the URI Bay Campus, Coastal Institute Building, Hazard Room, Narragansett. Workshop topics will include recreational and commercial striped bass management for 2017, commercial Atlantic menhaden, as well as recreational and commercial tautog and bluefish. Both recreational and commercial fishermen are urged to attend, learn about the state of these fisheries and proposed regulation options. Visit www.dem.ri.gov for a copy of the workshop presentation, which is expected to be published next week.

Where’s the bite?

Cod fishing.

Capt. Andy Dangelo of the Seven B’s party boat said, “We fished Monday and it was a steady pick of cod all day with high hook catching six keepers. Fishing was so good we added Wednesday to our schedule for the week.” Party boats sailing for cod this time of year include the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com, the Seven B’s at www.sevenbs.com and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com .

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing 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 dmontifish@verizon.net or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com.

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