Thankful for the fish, especially Atlantic Menhaden
It is Thanksgiving already. We have a lot to be thankful for in Rhode Island, we were clobbered by hurricane Sandy but did not experience the loss of life and property that New York and New Jersey experienced. By no means am I belittling our losses in Westerly, Misquamicut and along our southern coastal shores. Our residences suffered major losses and we need to continue to help them.
Overall it was a good year for recreational fishing in our bays and ocean. Fishing this year was better than it has been in a number of years. The striped bass run in the Bay was moderate, however, the bass fishing continued to be great offshore around Block Island, the fluke season was good and we had an outstanding scup and black sea bass fishery this year. All this was capped with a surprisingly good fall tautog season that we are still experiencing. This is a lot to be thankful for.
One species I am forever grateful for is Atlantic Menhaden as it serves as a food source for so many other fish including striped bass. If you fish RI coastal waters, offshore or in Narragansett Bay, now is the time to voice your concerns about this important fish species as the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Atlanta Menhaden Management Board meets December 14, 2012 to consider regulations for this important species.
In addition to being a primary food source for many other species of fish, menhaden serve as roving filters, converting algae into energy and thus reducing nutrient loads in bays and covers. An adult menhaden, through its unique filtering gills, is able to process up to 4 gallons of water per minute or a million gallons of water every 180 days. Multiply this by the number of menhaden in any given area and this is an amazing amount of water being filtered, a reduction of nutrients means fewer algae blooms and ultimately more oxygen for all fish.
The ASMFC's Atlantic Menhaden Management Board will meet on December 14, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland to consider approval of Amendment 2 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden. The meeting will take place at the Best Western Plus Hotel and Conference Center, Chesapeake Room, 5625 O'Donnell Street, Baltimore, Maryland.
At the meeting, the Board will select the final measures to be included in the Amendment as well as an implementation timeline. Draft Amendment 2 was out for public comment until November 16, 2012. The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) and other fishing groups in Rhode Island and Massachusetts expressed their thoughts on these important Atlantic Menhaden regulations at public hearings. However, even though the public comment period is officially closed it is important to continue to put pressure on the ASMFC committee to regulate on the side of the fish. To make sure this species is here to stay and will not continue to be overfished. Advocating for this species should continue through December as regulations are finalized and implemented. Watch this column for ways to advocate for this species as we get closer to the December meeting and beyond this meeting date.
Amendment 2 presents a suite of options to manage and monitor the stock in both the short and long-term. These include options to end overfishing; change the biomass reference points to match the fishing mortality reference points; and establish a specification process to set and allocate total allowable catch (TAC), including procedures to close the fishery when a certain percentage of the TAC has been projected to be landed. It presents accountability measures to address quota transfers, rollovers, and overage payback, as well as options to allow for a specified amount of the TAC to be set aside for small scale fisheries and episodic events. To address monitoring and data collection needs, the Draft Amendment also presents options for timely quota monitoring and the collection of biological data through catch sampling. Overall it is a very comprehensive amendment.
BOEM holds stakeholder workshop on windmills
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held a workshop at the URI Bay campus Friday to discuss ocean windmills and their impact on fishing. This was the second of a series of eight workshops taking place on the east coasts to obtain input from commercial and recreational fishers.
This input meeting addressed future potential conflicts between fishing and wind projects within the Ocean Continental Shelf (OCS). BOEM is seeking input from commercial and recreational fishing industries, as well as fisheries management agencies and scientists, relative to proposed offshore wind energy development.
Some of the wind energy/fishing issues discussed included radar performance around wind farms (wind farms can a negative impact on radar), obstruction markings, the ability to shut down the wind farm for emergencies/rescues, exclusion zones, safety zones, electromagnetic fields (EMF) generated by turbines and their impact on fish, and financial compensation for equipment loss, liability damage, cable damage, etc.
BOEM intends to process and summarize meeting input for consideration when formulating lease requirements for wind farms. Recreational anglers recommended such things as added underwater structure around turbine foundations to attract fish, a mooring ball system over the structure so anglers can tie up and fish, reflective markings on structures in addition to lights, radar reflectors, chart markings, mariner notifications during wind farm construction and some type of alert or warning system. For more information visit BOEM's website at www.boem.gov.
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.