By CAPT. DAVE MONTI A study published Aug. 31, 2021 in the journal Oceanography titled “Ocean Regime Shift is Driving Collapse of the North Atlantic Right Whale Population” relates how climate-driven ocean change in the northwestern Atlantic is complicating efforts to protect the North Atlantic right whale from fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes.
In a press advisory the Lenfest Ocean Program said, “The Gulf of Maine and western Scotian Shelf, which include areas where we typically see right whales feeding in the spring and summer, began warming at an alarming rate in 2010. This had profound impacts on the food web, including a decline in the whale’s main food source, a small copepod species known as Calanus finmarchicus.”
As a result of this food source move, right whales began searching for food further north in the Gulf of St. Lawrence where, at the time, they lacked protection from gear entanglements and ship strikes.
While Lenfest was highlighting the plight of right whales Federal fishery managers issued a new rule designed to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales from entanglement in lobster gear.
However, the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) commented, “While this rule is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough or fast enough to stop the precipitous decline of this species,” said Erica Fuller, Senior Attorney at CLF. “We plan to challenge the new rule in court to ensure that right whales recover rather than become an extinction statistic …”
Right whale entanglements perhaps could have been mitigated by scenario planning … by anticipating their movement, fisheries management could have been better prepared to mitigate entanglements. Scenario planning will be key to anticipating fisheries climate impacts moving forward.
Earlier this month, I attended a scenario planning session that gave participants the opportunity to think about climate change and how it could impact habitat, the fish we catch and coastal communities.
This was the last of three East Coast Climate Change Scenario Planning sessions, but the beginning of a process. The session was conducted by NOAA Fisheries and its east coast partners the New England, Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils as well as the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Climate change scenario planning includes brain storming how climate impacts such as warming water, acidification, water rise and habitat degradation, could impact the fish we catch, the forage fish they eat, habitat and coastal areas. Will fish move to find forage and where will they move to as water warms? What if rising water washes away coastline, floods marinas, docks and shore side support service? Where will vessels dock and acquire services?
The initiative is designed to prepare fishing communities and managers for an era of climate change. Focal questions include: How might climate change affect stock distribution, availability and other aspects of East Coast marine fisheries over the next twenty years? And what does this mean for future governance and management across multiple jurisdictions?
For details and expected outcomes visit https://www.mafmc.org/climate-change-scenario-planning. Provide input by completing a scenario planning questionnaire at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2WWCCHK by September 20.
Minimum tautog size is 16 inches with a three fish/person/day limit and a 10 fish boat limit. Jeff Williams of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said, “The bite out in front of Newport was better than last week but still a bit slow ... Anglers are catching a lot of shorts off Newport with an occasional keeper.” Tom Giddings of The Tackle Box, Warwick, said, “Customers are catching keeper tautog at Rocky Point. One angler who fishes there often said a tautog bent her rod in half before it broke off her braid line in structure.” Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, said, “Customers are tautog fishing but the bite is still not great. It was better this weekend. I believe the water is still a little warm.”
“Customers are catching fish to about 26 inches in the Conimicut Point area from shore,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box. Jeff Williams of Lucky Bait said striped bass, bluefish and false albacore mixed in were at the mouth of the Sakonnet River this weekend.” There is plenty of bait in the water (sand eels, spearing, and peanut bunker) and the water quality has been very good.”
Neal Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle said, “Anglers are keying in on the bass, bluefish and false albacore. Staging at the mouth of rivers and outlets as the tide turns to outgoing. The false albacore bite has been a little off since the storm last week.”
East End Eddie Doherty said, “The Cape Cod Canal is giving up striped bass from schools of mixed sizes at first light on the east tide starting in the west end. Fish in the 25-pound class and larger are travelling close to the bottom as thousands of slots and shorts break on the surface. Experienced Canal Rat Joe England of Acushnet landed a nice linesider with a soft plastic jig underneath a magnificent blitz.”
We fished a ledge southeast of Beavertail this week with good results. Plenty of action with small black seabass and keep size fish (minimum size is 15 inches, three fish/person/day) coming in a four to one ratio. The scup bite there was good too. Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box said, “The scup bite has been pretty good throughout the Bay.”
fishing has been good with anglers using live bait (shiners) with success to target largemouth bass. Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box said, “Sand Pond, Warwick Lake, Gorton Pond and other ponds in the State are producing largemouth bass for anglers. We even have a good catfish bite at Sand Pond. Anglers are dangling shiners two feet below the surface with a bobber and the catfish are hitting them.”
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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