Over the past month there has been a lot of talk about recreational fishing, and a lot of talk about boating, and the impact they have on Rhode Island. As one might expect these industries bolster tourism, and come to find out they do have a huge direct impact on our economy. But the greatest impact for me is not financial, but rather the recreational benefits—the peace of mind one gets by being close to or on the water and the fun and bonding that goes on between friends and family members when they are fishing or boating in Rhode Island.
All the fishing and boating talk started this month with the 2013 Southern New England Recreational Fishing Symposium held on April 2 in Warwick. This symposium was hosted by the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association in conjunction with the URI Coastal Institute. One week later the symposium was followed by the release of a new for-hire (charter and party boat) economic impact study by the National Oceanographic an d Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) regional research center. And then, last week, preliminary results for the 2012 Northeast Recreational Boater Survey were released at a coastal boating and marine industry workshop held at Save the Bay’s headquarters in Providence. The workshop and study were sponsored by SeaPlan, an independent nonprofit ocean science and policy group.
By the numbers
It all adds up. NOAA’s estimate on the economic impact of recreational fishing in Rhode Island totals $179 million. In the Northeast the impact of the for-hire industry was estimated at $334 million and preliminary data from the 2012 Northeast Recreational Boater Survey indicated that the economic impact of recreational boating could be as high as $220 million in Rhode Island.
The data, much of it available for the first time, tells a story. Even though some industry segments are missing and others may be counted twice, the data leads me to believe that it is in the best interest of all Rhode Islanders to advocate for the boating industry, recreational fishing, the environment and fish that live in our waters because they have a great impact on all of us. Now add the impact of commercial fishing and boating (shipping) and the economic impact is all that much greater. Visit the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association website for results of the Recreational Fishing Symposium at www.risaa.org , and visit NOAA’s website for information on the recreational fishing and for-hire industry studies at www.nefsc.noaa.gov/publications .
Where’s the bite
Striped bass reports are spotty at best. Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle in Warwick said, “Customers have not been catching striped bass yet, the water is still cold, about 50 degrees on the surface in the Bay.“ With the water warming this week (the temperature was 53 degrees when I was out Sunday) anglers are hopeful that the spring run of striped bass are close behind. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said, “A customer caught a 32” striped bass in the Seekonk River Sunday. Not sure if it was a new fish or one that wintered here. The angler that caught it said it was a fairly round fish so it may have been a new migrating fish.”
Tautog fishing reports still trickling in with some keeper fish being caught in Mt. Hope Bay, India Pint Park in Providence and in the Warren River. Overall tautog fishing is slow, warm water will help here too.
Squid are starting to appear. “Some squid are here, customers are catching them but in no great numbers.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle. The Francis Fleet began their squid fishing trips last Friday.
Herring migrations into our bays, rivers and salt ponds have been heavy this year. As early as four weeks ago Craig Castro of Erickson’s Bait & Tackle said, “The herring are thick in Little Gorton’s Pond behind my shop.” Traditionally Atlantic Menhaden come after the herring, flowed by striped bass chasing them. Let’s hope that this is what happens this week as the water warms.
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. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Visit Captain Dave’s No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com; his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .