Leaders Day keeps spotlight on climate-ready fisheries


Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s 13th Annual Energy, Environment and Oceans Leaders Day (EEO Day) held Friday, Dec. 2, 2022 was a big success.

The purpose of the workshop is to recognize Rhode Island environmental leaders and update the community on recent developments in the environment, energy, oceans and climate change arenas. News at the workshop included Senator Whitehouse announcing that he will likely be elected chairman of the Senate Budget Committee (this bodes well for Rhode Island).

I asked, via prewritten questions, about NOAA Fisheries funding for climate ready fisheries initiatives and NOAA Fisheries’ inability to move fast enough to meet climate challenges so far. I pointed to the fishing industry’s disappointment that for two years in a row NOAA’s requested $10-million in special funds for climate research initiatives was reduced to $1-million.

Senator Whitehouse said his new anticipated role on the Senate Budget Committee should put him in a good position to advocate for such climate related funds. 

As in the past, Senator Whitehouse gathered top policy makers, implementers, Senate and administration climate leaders to serve as panelists. The audience was comprised of Rhode Islander leaders working in environment, oceans and to stem the tide on negative climate impacts in a variety of areas.

Two speakers I would like to highlight include Greg Gerritt who received the Senator’s EEO Leaders Day Service Award for his work as an environmental and economist activist. Mr. Gerritt is the former Administrator for the Environment Council of Rhode Island and leads the RI Compost Initiative and is a founding member of such organization as the Friends of the Moshassuck, the Green Party of the United States and the Environmental Justice League of RI. Congratulations Mr. Gerritt, on an award well deserved.

Another EEO Day panelist was Jane Lubehenco, former top NOAA Administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere who now serves as Director for Climate and the Environment White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Ms. Lubehenco related that “Funds for fisheries climate change impacts such as shifting fish stocks are available in the Coastal Resilience bucket in the Infrastructure Bill” passed by congress in Nov, 2021.  Director Lubehenco said, “Climate related funds for fishing ports and the shipping industry are also available in the new law.”

Earlier at the workshop Senator Whitehouse related that the spirit of climate initiatives originally funded in the “Build Back Better” bill (that did not pass Congress) will be carried over in 2022 Senate work.

Another highlight of the Leaders Day was the “Fireside Chat with the Three Climateers of the Senate”… Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii. The trio related policy making they engaged to insure climate stayed on the front burner of the nation in past administrations and their roles to insure climate change policy roles out in the present administration. It was like listening to athletes in a locker room after a big game on how they really won the game.

I was honored to be invited to attend EEO Day and thought it was a great success along the 100 other positive comments that were made on Facebook and Twitter that day after the event.

Congratulations Senator Whitehorse on another very successful EEO Day. Thank you for being the climate leader you are. 

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass fishing has slowed quite a bit but there are some fish still around. Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “Saturday I saw a 30-pound striped bass under the dock at Ft. Adams looking for squid and there are still some fish on the surface in the Bay.”

“Anglers are catching bass that are chasing bait along the coastal shore and in the estuaries,” said Declan O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, Charlestown.” 

Ed Lombardo fly expert and guide said, “I fished most days last week and caught both striped bass and hickory shad in the Narrow River near Sprague Bridge, however, the water is starting to cool so holdover fish will start to move up River.”

Tautog fishing is still good when anglers are able to get out as most have pulled their boats out of the water and high winds and cold make fishing unpleasant some days. “Customers are hooking up with keeper tautog at the Kettle Point Dock and at the broken bridge at the mouth of the Seekonk River.” said Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. Joe Castaldi of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown, said, “The tautog bite is still strong but it is in water 80 feet or deeper.”

Sullivan of lucky Bait & Tackle, said, “Tautog fishing is spotty as the bite has moved deeper to as much as 100 feet of water.” 

O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle, said, “The tautog bite is still on for anglers fishing for them at this time … both from shore and boats.”

“Cod fishing off Newport and the Sakonnet has been good. We targeted and hooked up with some nice eight pound market size fish off the Sakonnet River this weekend in 85 to 90 feet of water,” said Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle.

Freshwater fishing for salmon and trout exploded this week in stocked ponds. “Simmons Mill Pond in Little Compton is producing 16 to 24-inch salmon stocked by DEM along with trout,” said Sullivan. “The largemouth bass bite has slowed with cooler water so anglers have slowed down their retrieve to catch largemouth.”

“Customers are catching trout at Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown.” said Joe Castaldi of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle. “Watchaug Pond has been producing trout and salmon for customers,” said O’Donnell of Breachway Bait & Tackle. “Customers are still catching some salmon and trout at Willett Avenue Pond.” said Littlefield.

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 or visit

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