About a month ago anglers expressed concern for the status of three spices (black sea bass, summer flounder and tautog) managed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and/or the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. 2022 fishing regulation
About a month ago anglers expressed concern for the status of three spices (black sea bass, summer flounder and tautog) managed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and/or the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
2022 fishing regulation measures approved for Massachusetts and Rhode Island (as well as other coastal states) included a 28 percent black sea bass Recreational Harvest Limit (RHL) reduction coastwide; a 33 percent reduction in scup; and up to a 18.5 percent liberalization of the RHL for summer flounder. All of these actions will result in Massachusetts and Rhode Island fishing regulation changes for 2022.
In Rhode Island saltwater fishing regulation options were discussed at a Department of Environmental Management Marine Fisheries public workshop held on Jan. 4. The purpose of the meeting was to review stock status, 2021 regulations and proposed 2022 regulation options. Species covered at the workshop included bluefish, black sea bass, striped bass, scup, tautog, summer flounder and shortfin mako sharks. A number of commercial regulation options were also discussed.
About ten in person and twenty online participants spoke at the meeting. Highlights of the meeting included angler proposals or regulation options on black sea bass, tautog and summer flounder.
Proposals put forth at the meeting include one for summer flounder that would allow for one 16-inch fish (the regulation is now a minimum size of 19 inches with a six fish/person/day limit). So the proposal is to allow one of these fish to be a minimum size of 16 inches. Special provision shore areas would be included, perhaps allow two fish at this size to be taken from special provision areas. Rich Hittinger, 1st vice president of the RI Saltwater Anglers Association, said, “With an enhanced recreation harvest limit coastwide allowing anglers to take one smaller fish may actually help the spawning stock, as larger fish are generally female, so odds are that a 16-inch fish is more likely to be male.”
In regard to black sea bass, Greg Vespe, executive director of RISAA, said, “We are advocating for a May 28 start to the season, just as the spring tautog season ends. Once the water in our Bays warm in late June and July keeper size black sea bass (minimum size is 15 inches) leave for deeper, cooler water and shore and Bay anglers have difficulty catching keeper black sea bass. We support a three fish limit throughout the season, starting on May 28 and running as long as it can with three fish, if we can enhance the bag limit to four fish in the fall that would be great too.” The 2021 black sea bass season did not start until June 24 with a three fish limit that increased to seven fish on Sept. 7.
Proposal for tautog were also discussed at the meeting. The species stock status is good, however, anglers at the meeting and a contingent of charter captains, fear that we are not doing enough to protect larger females with great spending potential. The option proposed was to institute a regulation that would allow just one “trophy fish” over 21 inches to be taken and reduce the bag limit in the fall season to four fish/person/day from five fish. The idea in both cases it to reduce the number of females that are begin harvested.
Details on regulation options will be put forth on these and other species at a Feb. 7 public hearing. The regulations will then move forward to the Marine Fisheries Council scheduled to meet in February for their opinion and then onto Terrance Gray, Acting Director of DEM for his final decisions on 2022 fishing regulations.
Visit www.dem.ri.gov for information on regulation options once they are posted for the February 4 public hearing.
Sounds farfetched that the CARES Act would include funds for fish, but it does and we have Senators Markey and Warren as well as Congressmen Keating and Moulton from Massachusetts to thank.
In May 2020, the Massachusetts lawmakers were successful when the USDA announced that it would include $20 million of Atlantic Haddock, Pollock, and Redfish in additional Section 32 food purchases made available in part by the CARES Act.
In April and May 2020 the congressional team jointing wrote the USDA. The request urged the inclusion of domestic and Atlantic seafood companies in the deployment of the $9.5 billion awarded by the Coronavirus Assistance, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for affected agricultural producers.
In late December the Department of Agriculture announced that it will purchase $25 million in Atlantic groundfish products for distribution to a variety of food nutrition assistance programs. The purchase will continue to help East Coast seafood producers that have been impacted negatively by the pandemic and provide local nutritious food for those in need.
Fish sales plummeted during the pandemic due to a reduced number of people dinning out with restaurant closures and COVID restrictions.
Most cod fishing vessels are taking online reservations in advance. Cod fishing off Rhode Island and Massachusetts south of Cape Cod is a good bet in January. Party boats fishing for cod this winter include the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet.com , the Seven B’s at www.sevenbs.com, and the Island Current at www.islandcurrent.com .
As temperatures fall this week check safe ice conditions with cities and towns. Fishing in ponds stocked this winter with trout should be a good bet for trout fishing at ponds not frozen yet.
Anglers are reminded to renew their licenses for salt and freshwater for 2022. 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 .
Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.
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