Ocean planning: new film shows Rhode Island leading the way
Did you hear the one about the striped bass and the seal? The striped bass feeding on the Southwest Ledge off Block Island saw a seal feeding in the same area and said, “Scram Mr. Seal, this ledge is zoned for striped bass only.”
Far-fetched? Not entirely. We can’t control where fish go in the ocean but we can plan what activities are allowed to take place in certain areas of the ocean. Ocean planners in Rhode Island are pioneers in what is called ocean spatial planning. It is like zoning used by cities and towns with commercial, residential, and industrial zones—except it takes place in the ocean. Planners identify shipping lanes, areas for fish traps and fishing, and areas for energy development. Energy development like the windmills being built off Block Island next year and the larger 200-plus turbine wind farm planned for the ocean between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard on the fringe of Cox’s Ledge.
Rhode Island Coastal Resource Management Council is a leader in ocean planning. The work the Council has done is serving as a model for New England and the country. And, later this month a film focusing on Rhode Island, “Ocean Frontiers II, A New England Story for Sustaining the Sea” will premiere in Providence. The film brings audiences face-to-face with those now embarking on the nation’s first multi-state ocean plan (led by Rhode Island’s example).
“Ocean Frontiers II” is a story of citizens coming together to promote healthier economies and healthier seas across New England. Karen Mayer, Green Fire Productions’ Executive Director and the film’s producer, said “The people of Rhode Island impressed us with the passionate effort that went into the Rhode Island Ocean SAMP. We see this as an ideal example to share with New England and the rest of the country as ocean planning across the region gets underway. Rhode Island clearly shows that win-win solutions are possible when industry, scientists, fishermen, conservationists, Native American tribes and governments work together.”
The film highlights the historic and emerging ocean uses of New England waters and introduces viewers to people working on the Northeast regional ocean planning initiative. In a region steeped in old maritime tradition, we see a modern wave of big ships, energy industries, and a changing climate, now testing the limits of an already crowded sea. But in a pioneering trial of far-sighted planning—pushed by blueprints for offshore wind energy—old residents and new are coming together to keep their ocean and livelihoods alive.
A spotlight on Rhode Island reveals how collaborative planning reduces conflicts over ocean resources and puts us on new path of ocean stewardship. Rhode Island citizens—coastal planners, fishermen, Native American tribal leaders, environmental advocates, scientists, and wind energy executives—are featured in the film, showcasing the Ocean State’s work to not only identify options for developing offshore wind power, but to prepare for the full gamut of impending demands upon the state’s ocean waters.
The world premiere of “Ocean Frontiers II” will take place at 7 p.m., Monday, October 28, at the Providence Public Library Auditorium, 150 Empire St. After the screening, there will be a discussion with people featured in the film, moderated by Sunshine Menezes, executive director of the Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. The event is free and open to the public; reservations are requested. Visit http://bit.ly/OceanFrontiers2RI to RSVP. A film trailer is available for viewing at www.ocean-frontiers.ort/trailer .
Where’s the bite
Striped bass fishing continued to be strong but with some off days too. John Wunner of John’s Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “Bass have been on the surface. One of my customers landed two nice bass in the Austin Hollow, Jamestown area last week and then moved on to Dutch Island and landed two more.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, East Providence said, “Customers Kevin and Albert Bettencourt of East Providence have been landing keeper bass at night in the Warren River using eels.” Angler Russ Weymouth fished the southwest side of Block Island last week and could not hook-up with bass. Striped bass are still being caught along the southern coastal shore from Pt. Judith, Narragansett to Watch Hill.
Tautog fishing trips starts on the Frances Fleet at 6 a.m., Oct. 19. I fished the Coddington Cove jetty this weekend with little luck. The Brenton Reef and Seal Ledge area off Newport are “holding keeper sized tautog and black sea bass with a number of anglers limiting out,” said John Wunner. John Littlefield said, “Tautog is being caught but there are a lot of shorts mixed in. It’s ten shorts to one keeper, at best.”
Northern Kingfish are being caught at Lavens Marina near Hanes Park, East Providence. Some anglers have caught ten to twelve fish an outing, according to John Littlefield.
Cod fishing continues to yield quality fish on the Frances Fleet, with cod weighing in at 20 to 25 pounds caught on most trips.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at [email protected].