New commercial fishing licenses available but limited; renewals due this week
The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced that a limited number of new commercial fishing licenses will be made available this year. A total of 23 new quahog, 11 new soft-shell clam, and six new restricted finfish endorsements on commercial fishing licenses will be available for the 2013 fishing season. The new restricted finfish endorsements will allow for the commercial harvest of any of the six species of restricted finfish: summer flounder, scup, striped bass, black sea bass, tautog, and winter flounder. Applications for the new endorsements must be filed with DEM by February 28, 2013. The applications will be screened, and the new endorsements awarded, on the basis of the priority selection process set forth in the commercial licensing regulations.
Rhode Island residents may also obtain, without limits or restrictions, new commercial fishing licenses with the following endorsements: shellfish other, non-restricted finfish, and non-lobster crustacean. Also, any resident aged 65 or older may obtain a 65 & Over Shellfish license, and any resident who is a full-time student and under the age of 23 as of February 28th of the license year may obtain a Student Shellfish license (both of which allow for the commercial harvest of quahogs). Applications for all new licenses must be filed with DEM by February 28, 2013. Interested applicants are encouraged to review all guidance documents and applications located at www.dem.ri.gov.
Licenses may be renewed online through April 29 via DEM's website, www.dem.
ri.gov. License holders are reminded that prior to license renewal, all logbooks must be up to date with DEM's Marine Fisheries Program located at 3 Fort Wetherill Road in Jamestown. For questions concerning the log books, call the Marine Fisheries office at 401-423-1926.
In December, DEM's Office of Boat Registration & Licensing mailed approximately 4,500 marine license renewal applications to all commercial marine license holders as well as those applicants holding recreational pot/diver licenses, vessel declarations, and marine dealer licenses. Questions regarding licenses or endorsements may be directed to the licensing office at 401-222-6647.
RISAA holds annual banquet, honors top
anglers and fishing
The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) held their 15th Anniversary Banquet Saturday at the West Valley Inn, West Warwick RI. Community fishing advocates were recognized at the event as well as anglers who were recognized as winners of their annual fishing tournament. Plaques for anglers in adult and junior categories in both boat and shore divisions were awarded for a variety of species such as fluke (summer flounder), striped bass, tautog and bluefish. Charles Bradbury was awarded angler of the year posthumously. This was the fifth angler of the year award to Bradbury; his sons Michael and Raymond Bradbury received the award on his behalf. Others receiving awards included Joey Scrofani of Wakefield, RI who received the junior angler of the year award; RI Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and Alfred DiOrio, Professional Land Surveyors of Ashaway, RI, for their work in the area of public access to the shore; Larry Mouradjian, associate director of DEM's Bureau of Natural Resources and Steve Wright, director of Parks and Recreation, Narragansett, RI for their work with the Galilee fishing tournament and seafood festival.
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council revises black sea bass catch limits
In a move that has relieved recreational and commercial fishers, last week the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) approved an acceptable biological catch (ABC) limit of 5.5 million pounds for black sea bass for both 2013 and 2014. If approved the ABC would result in a recreational harvest limit of 2.26 million pounds and a commercial quota of 2.17 million pounds. Black sea bass have been managed with a 4.5 million pound constant catch level since 2010. The Council's decision to increase the ABC was based on recommendations from its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC).
Recreational fishermen often target and catch black sea bass as a by-catch when targeting other species. The recreational black sea bass fishery closed two months early last year after preliminary catch estimates indicated that the 1.32 million pound recreational harvest limit had been exceeded. This closure and the possibility of future quota reductions and/or closures sparked frustration among members of the recreational fishing community, many of whom felt that the overage was caused by an underestimation of the black sea bass stock size. The Council discussed this issue at the December 2012 meeting and requested that the SSC reconsider the 2013 ABC and develop a recommendation for 2014 in light of recent stock and landings information.
The SSC met in January and initially concluded that the additional information relative to fishery performance, stock size, and recruitment were insufficient to justify an ABC adjustment for black sea bass. However, after evaluating the constant catch level that has been in place for three years, the SSC concluded that the 4.5 million pound ABC is "extremely conservative" and recommended an increase to 5.5 million pounds for the next two years.
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 and the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association board. Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke Charters website at www.noflukefishing.com, his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com or e-mail him fishing news and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.