Anglers advocate for strong conservation measures

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No Fluke by Capt. Dave Monti

Anglers advocate for strong conservation measures

Last week I was part of a group of anglers that visited Washington, DC advocating for strong conservation measures in our national fishing law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA).

The group visited senate offices urging senators to not approve a pending senate bill, S 1520. The bill had an unreasonable frequency of allocation reviews that would soak up Regional Fishery Council time, not allowing them to focus on important fisheries issues such as climate change and its impact of fish and habitat, ecosystem-based management, efforts to reduce bycatch and efforts to enhance forage fish species, etc. The bill also creates confusion around the use of annual catch limits, the very MSA mechanism that has led to the successful rebuilding of over 44 fish stocks.

The group was advocating for senators to oppose S 1520 this year and work on a bi-partisan approach to conservation and fisheries management in the future. They were suggesting that democrats and republicans reach across the aisle and work together in 2019 if and when the Magnuson-Stevens Act needs to be revised. The last House of Representatives bill passed in 2018 on MSA was pretty much voted on right down party lines.

Visit www.conservefish.org for more information on fish conservation and our national fishing law.

Offshore wind developers meet with anglers

The stage was set with three seats at the RI Saltwater Anglers Association meeting last week at the West Warwick Elks as about one-hundred fishermen and wind farm developers came to talk about the three ocean wind farm lease areas granted to date off Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

There was a bit of excitement in the air as the three developers took the stage to highlight their projects and then answer questions. The seminar included an overview of ocean wind in Rhode Island and the northeast, a brief overview presentation on each lease area (by the way multiple projects are being developed in each lease area), then questions for RISAA vice president Rich Hittinger that had been solicited from members prior to the meeting. The remaining time was dedicated to answering questions from the audience. The only down side to the evening was that there was not enough time for the audience to ask all the questions they wanted to ask. The developers presenting included Christa Bank of Vineyard Wind, Laura Morse of Bay State Wind, and Cap. John O’Keefe of Deepwater Wind. Deepwater Wind was recently purchased by Orsted of Denmark, the firm that owns the Bay State Wind Farm lease area so the companies are in the process of merging staff functions and personnel.

I had three major take-a-ways from the meeting.

First, there is still a lot of misinformation out there so industry, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) that manages offshore wind and state governments all need to do a better job of educating the public about projects being built. This goes far beyond addressing the letter of the law, meaning information meetings like the one held at RISAA, industry information portals, fishing/offshore wind advocacy groups that share information, etc. are vitally important to get the work out to the recreational fishing community and public.

Second, there are thousands of turbines planned for the northeast and fishermen are concerned about the cumulative impacts so they are asking for careful planning and research before, during and after construction of each project within a windfarm lease area. The aim would be to identify challenges to habitat and fish as they develop so learnings can be used to build out future lease area projects.

Third, their needs to be a research protocol that all offshore wind projects follow i.e. habitat and fish studies, as well as studies before, during and after construction that study acoustics, birds, electromagnets, etc. I have long felt that the Block Island Wind Farm did a good job setting the table for an appropriate protocol and should be used a model that can be applied to other projects.

Each of the wind farm developers pledged to include recreational fishing at the table when developing and finalizing plans. As a fishing community we need to make sure this happens by participating in the numerous public hearings and input meetings taking place as each project develops. Safeguarding the fish and habitat is our job. Visit www.anglersforoffshorewind.org for information on anglers that want responsible offshore wind development. Thirteen federal agencies ring climate change bell

NOAA is one of thirteen federal agencies that contributed significantly to the Fourth National Climate Assessment.

The new federal report finds that climate change is affecting the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, and human health and welfare across the U.S. and its territories.

As fishermen we need to rally around this report and advocate for public policy that addresses climate change impacts on the fish, habitat and our coastal shore.

For information on the report visit https://www.noaa.gov/news/new-federal-climate-assessment-for-us-released. Where’s the bite?

Cod and haddock. Cod fishing is starting to improve offshore and close to shore. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “Customers are catching cod off Beavertail and at the old Brenton Tower site. They are not large fish, but they are keepers (minimum size for cod is 22” in Rhode Island with a ten fish/person/day limit). John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “A few customers have been catching cod from shore in Narragansett.” Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “On Friday of last week we found a pile cod fish, black sea bass, ling, scup and haddock. Not just one or two haddock but over 100 keepers were boated. Capt. Rich also fished on Saturday and out did himself once again. More haddock than we have seen in years. High hook for the boat caught fifteen keepers.”

Tautog fishing is still very good for anglers getting out to fish. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Two hot spots include the third red can coming out of Newport off Brenton Reef in about 40 feet of water. Anglers are also doing well inside the Bay at the Codington Cove jetty.” Capt. Frank Blount said, “Friday was very slow and we had thought the tautog season was over much sooner than expected. However, on Saturday we sailed with a light group of anglers and boated a full limit of fine white chinners. We worked the grounds close to home and it really paid off.”

Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. Visit Captain Dave’s No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com or e-mail him with your fishing news and photos at dmontifish@verizon.net

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