No Fluke

Symposium shines light on national fishing law

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So you fish the saltwater when vacationing on the Cape… or you take your fishing a bit more seriously and perhaps fish more regularly from shore or a boat on Narragansett Bay, along the coastal shore or out at Block Island.

No matter what the case might be you should be aware that the national law governing fishing in this nation, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, is up for reauthorization. What this means is that the house and senate of our nation will likely debate and revise the law this year.

Recreational fishermen are vying for a revised law that puts recreational fishing on a higher plane addressing their needs more directly as the original law was written with commercial fishing in mind.

Commercial fishermen are interested in catching pounds of fish. They provide access to a fresh, nutritious resource for all Americans. But the goal is catching pounds of fish, as many as they can, while fishing responsibly towards sustainable fisheries. So the system under existing law is set up this way, i.e. measuring existing biomass of fish species in pounds of fish and harvesting them via a quota system that is in pounds of fish.

However, recreational fishing is experiential. Anglers fishing on my charter boat, whether they are customers, family members or friends, are fishing primarily for the experience. The American Sportfishing Association, a recreational industry trade association, has researched why recreational fishers fish. Catching fish is often not the first reason. Research shows that anglers are going fishing to experience the outdoors and to spend time with family and friends. So oddly enough, catching fish is often not the first reason why people fish recreationally.

Don’t get me wrong, under the existing Magnuson-Stevens Act fishing has flourished while rebuilding over 40 fish species since its inception. The establishment of stock assessments (to estimate how many fish are in the water), commercial fishing quotas and recreational harvest limits has served us well. They have put the needs of the fish first, growing them to abundance so there are more fish for all to catch and eat.

We need to keep a strong national fishing law in place because without it states and regions historically have overfished putting their needs first above those of the fish by overfishing. This was historically the case with codfish in New England, red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico and summer flounder in New Jersey last year.

However, the new reauthorized fishing law of the nation now under examination needs to address the experiential needs of recreational fishing and not just measure catch and effort by pounds of fish. We need to do this because in many states recreational fishing has a huge economic impact, often times rivaling and surpassing the economic impact of commercial fishing.

The Magnuson- Stevens Act is the focus of the 2018 Southern New England Recreational Fishing Symposium being held Friday, Jan. 26 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Warwick. This is the third symposium the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) has sponsored and the official topic this year is the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), and how to make it work for recreational fishing.

Steve Medeiros, RISAA president said, “We plan to have an open discussion about the MSA and have some of the nation’s top fishing community leaders participating as panelists. We want to make sure recreational fishing has a larger voice in resetting the nation’s fishing law.”

According to the ‘Fisheries Economics of the United States’ report published by the Department of Commerce, recreational fishing in Rhode Island had sales of $332-million in 2015 (the last time a complete report was done). The report says commercial fishing had sales of $290 million in Rhode Island and a total of $338 million once imported fish were added. So recreational and commercial fishing are both formidable contributors to Rhode Island and the region’s economy.

Massachusetts’ situation is similar. The economic impact study shows recreational sales at $986 million and commercial sales at $861 million with sales of $1.129 billion once imports are added.

The symposium is scheduled to take place Friday, Jan. 26, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Warwick. Attendance is limited and by advance registration with preference given to RISAA members. For information contact Steve Medeiros at steve@risaa.org.

How to fish see and react to color and motion?

The Rhody Fly Rodders will meet Tuesday, Jan. 16, 6:30 p.m., at the Riverside Sportsmen’s Association, 1 Mohawk Dr., East Providence.

Capt. Ray Stachelek will speak about ‘Making sense of color’ in your fishing. Capt. Stachelek said, “What do fish actually see in their environment that’s quite different than ours? What do they see with objects under motion?” Much of what we know is antidotal based on experience. “We’ll try to dispel some common myths with factual based scientific evidence to help anglers understand more fully how fish might see our world, and we see theirs,” said Stachelek.

The public is invited to attend the meeting. Contact Peter Nilsen, president, at pdfish@fullchannel.net for information.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater ice fishing for largemouth bass, pickerel and perch has been good at ponds where the ice has been thick enough. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “We had been selling a ton of shiners to Massachusetts and now Rhode Island anglers before all this cold. Now that things are warming up we have stocked up with shiners again and are ready for customers.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence, said last week, “We have small/medium shiners with many customers now fishing frozen Rhode Island ponds and lakes.”

Cod fishing. The Island Current III out of Snug Harbor fished just a couple of times last week due to sea conditions, wind and cold. Their private party fishing trip Wednesday yielded a nice score of market cod. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The weather has been downright miserable. Temperatures were in the negatives with heavy freezing spray and snow which did not make for a fun time to go fishing. When we did get out the fish were on the picky side. We would do five drifts and catch but as soon as you anchored the bite would die. High hook for the week boxed eight keeper cod. Many fish were in the upper teens with the largest pool fish between 20 and 30 pounds.”

Party boats (inspected vessels that take more than six anglers, often 50 to 75 anglers) out of Rhode Island fishing for cod this winter include: the Seven B’s at sevenbs.com, the Frances Fleet at francesfleet.com and Island Current III at islandcurrent.com. Rates per angler for cod fishing are about $100.

Charter boats (six or fewer anglers) range from $750 to $1,200 per vessel depending if the cod trip is close to shore or offshore (and length of trip). Charter boats fishing for cod this winter include: Big Game Sport Fishing Charters, Captains Brian and Peter Bacon, biggamefishingri.com; Booked Off Charters, Captains Tony Guarino and Wade Baker, bookedoffcharters.com; Drifter Charters, Capt. Richard Chatowsky, drifterchartersri.com.

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

Capt. Dave Monti

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