Saltwater recreational fishing regulations closer to final at press time
The Marine Fisheries Division of the Department of Environment Management (DEM)) is scheduled to make final recommendations to director Janet Coit on recreational fishing regulations for 2012 sometime during the week of March 19, 2012.
After the public hearing last week, Robert Ballou of DEM, said, "The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council is scheduled to meet March 6th and vote on regulation recommendations. The Division is then expected to forward a package to the director that will include the Council's recommendations, staff recommendations and comments/proposals made at public meetings for the director's consideration... The director usually takes a couple of weeks to review input and then will likely file her ruling on regulations with the Secretary of State sometime during the first or second week of April." The regulations actually become law twenty days after the filings. So it would be toward the end of April that we have 2012 recreational fishing regulations.
Although this process seems long it is actually on track with other years. It the past, the RIMFC and DEM could not make decisions on some species (like fluke) because data (or parameters) from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission were not available. This is not the case this year. So we are actually a day or two ahead of the past schedules.
After following species Advisory Panels and the public hearing process, we have a good idea at press time what might be approved by the council, approved by the director and enacted into law. What "might" be approved is the operative word.
Here is what we can "expect" on select species.
Striped Bass: Status quo with last year's regulations, 28" minimum size, no closed season with a possession limit of two fish/person/day.
Fluke (or summer flounder): 18.5" minimum size with some liberalization likely on the bag limit, from seven fish to eight or nine fish/person/day. May 1 to December 31 season.
Black Sea Bass: good stock assessment so liberalization will likely occur on the season length from a July 11 season start to a July 1 start with an end date of December 31. 13" minimum size will likely stay the same as well as the twelve fish/person/day bag limit.
Scup: good stock assessment so liberalization is likely. 10.5" will likely remain at the minimum size with the 10 fish/person/day limit staying the same. However the season may be extended from a May 24 start date to a May 1 start date. Party and charter boats will likely continue to have a special season from September 7 to October 11. The bag limit for this period was 40 fish, the Rhode Island Party and Charter Boat Association (RIPCBA) is advocating for 45 fish per person in this period with an increase in the size limit to 11". We will have to see how this plays out. The good news is that we will likely have some liberalization.
Tautog regulations will likely remain the same, a 16" minimum size with a split season … three fish from April 15 to May 31 and from August 1 to October 19, a closed season from June 1 to July 31, and then six fish/person/day from October 20 to December 15 with a ten (or twelve) fish maximum per boat (does not apply to charter and party boats).
East Bay Anglers spring fishing flea market
The East Bay Anglers will hold their Spring Fishing Flea Market on Saturday, March 31, 2012 from 9:00 a.m. the 12:00 noon inside at the Riverside Sportsman's Club, East Providence, RI. The cost of a table to sell your stuff is $25, the cost to attend the flea market is $2 (children free). This is for both fresh and saltwater gear. Call Dave Fewster for information at 401-230-8201.
Make your voice heard at RIMFC meeting
If you have missed other opportunities to express your thoughts on recreational fishing regulation, now is the time to do it at the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council meeting being held Tuesday, March 6, 6:00 p.m. at the URI Narragansett Bay Campus, Coreless Auditorium on South Ferry Road in Narragansett, RI. The Council will be voting on recreational recommendations for summer flounder (fluke) scup/black sea bass, tautog, striped bass, menhaden and more.
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.