SPORTS

Is ice safe for fishing or skating?

NO FLUKE

by CAPTAIN DAVE MONTI
Posted 2/11/21

Is ice safe for fishing or skating? Now that it is cold all need to be mindful of ice on ponds and lakes that may look safe, but is not. Check with local cities and towns to find out if ice on a local pond or lake is safe to fish or skate on. Ice must

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SPORTS

Is ice safe for fishing or skating?

NO FLUKE

Posted

Is ice safe for fishing or skating?

Now that it is cold all need to be mindful of ice on ponds and lakes that may look safe, but is not. Check with local cities and towns to find out if ice on a local pond or lake is safe to fish or skate on.

Ice must have a uniform thickness of at least six inches before it is considered safe by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). It generally takes at least five to seven consecutive days of temperatures in the low 20s. However, safe ice is determined by a number of factors such as the size and depth of a pond, presence of springs or currents, and local temperature fluctuations. 

DEM’ Division of Parks and Recreation provides information about safe ice conditions at State Parks.  As of Tuesday, February 9 there were no safe ice conditions at Lincoln Woods State Park, Meshanticut State Park, Cranston and at Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick.

DEM’s 24-hours ice information line is 401.667.6222. DEM advises the public to check with individual communities about safe ice conditions before ice fishing or skating. An ice safety guide can be found online at www.riparks.com.

 

Ropeless lobster pots prevent whale entanglements

Hats off to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) for pioneering the use of ropeless fishing systems for lobster pots and other fixed gear. Ropeless fishing systems are designed to prevent the entanglement of the endangered North Atlantic right whale (population estimated at 366).

The majority of right whale serious injury and mortalities are caused by entanglement in fishing gear and ship strikes. While ropeless fishing may be beneficial to right whales, legitimate concerns remain about the feasibility and cost of Ropeless gear, along with technological, legal, and regulatory issues.

Erin Burke, protected species specialist for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, said, “Marine industries and the military have used devices to retrieve equipment from the seafloor for many years. Ropeless manufacturers are now translating that technology into systems that can work on retrieving commercial lobster traps.”

Burke said, “A ropeless fishing system includes a gear retrieval component and a gear marking component. Many retrieval systems are not "ropeless" but have a buoy line stowed at the bottom in a bag that is released once triggered. Some manufacturers utilize compressed air and lift bags to bring the trap to the surface. All of these systems use an acoustic signal to trigger the release of the buoy line or lift bag.” 

 

U.S. fisheries experience broad declines due to COVID-19

The U.S. fishing and seafood industries experienced broad declines in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis, according to a new NOAA Fisheries analysis released Jan. 15, 2021. While losses vary by sector, by region and by industry, data and information from this report may help businesses and communities assess losses and inform long-term recovery and resilience strategies.

According to analysts, COVID-19 protective measures instituted in March contributed to an almost-immediate impact on seafood sector sales. Travel restrictions in and out of states, a sharp decline in tourism and restaurant closures created a rapid decline in seafood demand, almost overnight.  There was also wide spread declines in the for-hire party and charter boat fishing industry too. Some states closed character fishing totally while others (like Rhode Island) keep things open with travel restrictions and social distancing requirements that limited the number of people that could fish on a vessel.

Revenues declined each month from a 19 percent decrease in March to a 45 percent decrease by July. This translates to a 29 percent decrease across those 7 months, as compared to 5-year averages and adjusted for inflation.

Visit https://media.fisheries.noaa.gov/2021-01/Updated-COVID-19-Impact-Assessment.pdf for the full report.

 

Still time to weigh in on wind farm environmental impact statement

There is still time (until Feb. 22) to comment online or register for one of the online public hearings on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the South Fork Wind Farm. 

All will get an opportunity to weigh in on BOEM’s work … what they missed, and what they got right on how the wind farm will impact the environment. BOEM, who is responsible for this DEIS, did not address recreational fishing in this DEIS.

The South Fork Wind Farm, a fifteen turbine offshore wind farm being built by wind farm developer Ørsted (owner of the Block Island Wind Farm), will be built on Cox Ledge 19 to 24 miles southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island.

Offshore wind and fishing can work together and coexist just as both have flourished at the Block Island Wind Farm. And, in the United Kingdom where wind farms have been built for years, science is telling us that fish abundance in wind farm areas is greater than in control areas outside of wind farms, visit https://tethys.pnnl.gov/publications/meta-analysis-finfish-abundance-offshore-wind-farms.

I am also a believer in the reef effort, as the science, my antidotal fishing experience and video footage at the base of the pylons at the Block Island Wind Farm tells us. New habitat and fish have been created, mussel growth has attracted scup, black sea bass and tautog and now anglers are targeting large striped bass and blue fish at pylon bases. 

Offshore wind farms are badly needed as renewable energy to help combat the negative impacts of climate change on fish, habitat and sea level rise on our coastal shores.

Fixed commercial fishing gear and trawlers, for-hire charter boats and private anglers have fished in the Block Island Wind Farm area after construction. And, with enhanced fishing pressure, fishing in the area is good, arguably better than before construction.

BOEM public meetings are being held on Feb. 11, 5 p.m. and Feb. 16, 5 p.m. More information, including the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, instructions for comments, and registration for the virtual public meetings can be found at https://www.boem.gov/renewableenergy/south-fork-wind-farm-deisvirtual-meetings.

 

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater . For licensing information and a list of trout stocked ponds in Rhode Island visit http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/fish-wildlife/freshwater-fisheries; and in Massachusetts visit www.mass.gov/freshwater-fishing-information .  

Cod fishing . Party boats fishing for cod this winter (weather permitting include) the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com , the Seven B’s at www.sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com . 

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