45 fish stocks rebuilt since 2000
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries division announced their 2018 Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress last week. The report shows continued positive progress with 91 percent of U.S. fish stocks not subject to overfishing and 82 percent of fish stocks not overfished. Additionally, one stock — Gulf of Maine smooth skate — was rebuilt, bringing the total number of stocks rebuilt since 2000 to 45.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the fishing law of this nation, has provided NOAA with mandatory stock rebuilding guidelines. Fish stocks all need plans to rebuild to sustainable levels and the rule of thumb is that stocks must be rebuilt within ten years. Additionally, the law mandates that each species have a sustainable Allowable Catch Limit (ACL) that fishers must fish within and if sectors overfish they must pay back overages the next year. Strong conservation provisions such as these have fostered the rebuilding of the 45 fish stocks noted above. See full report at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/2018-report-congress-status-us-fisheries.
Commission approves addendum for public comment…striped bass getting a haircut
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), with a 16 to 0 unanimous vote Thursday, approved Addendum VI to the striped bass management plan for public comment. The aim of the addendum is to reduce harvest by 18 percent.
A number of reduction options will be put out for public comment so new regulations for striped bass can be enacted for the 2020 fishing season. The most recent stock assessment shows the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring.
Both commercial and recreational fisheries will be taking a cut, however, how much of a cut each sector takes is outlined in Addendum VI options. Highlights of recreational options going out for public comment between August and October include:
Option 1: Status quo… keep things as they are now which will do nothing in achieving the required harvest reductions.
Option 2: Has multiple components. It calls for the recreational and commercial sectors to both absorb an 18 percent harvest reduction from 2017 levels. To achieve this in the recreational sector they are offering three sub-options, all options would maintain the existing season for striped bass, which is year round for recreational anglers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Option 2-A1: One fish at 35" minimum for ocean states which would result in and 18 percent reduction
Option 2-A2: One fish between a 28"-34" slot which would result in a 19 percent reduction
Option 2-A3: One fish between a 32"-40" slot which would result in a 21 percent reduction
An additional sub-option was suggested at the meeting, which is to include a slot size limit with a 30” minimum size and a maximum size limit that meets the required reduction. Circle hooks for striped bass bait fishing is also offered in Amendment VI with three options for the public to comment on. The Addendum also has options for the Chesapeake Bay fishery, which historically have been different.
Visit www.asmfc.org for details on what was approved for public comment in both commercial and recreational fishing sectors as the original Draft Addendum VI has changed via striped bass board input and approval.
Right whale conservation
There will be two federal meetings in Massachusetts hosted by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on Aug. 20 (Gloucester) and 21 (Bourne) to receive comments on possible alternatives to reduce risk of entanglement and serious injury & mortality attributable to the American lobster fishery for northern right whales. A similar meeting was held at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography in Rhode Island on August 8.
Visit ‘upcoming events’ for meeting times and locations at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/region/new-england-mid-atlantic.
Fly Tyers to start meetings September 4
The United Fly Tyers of Rhode Island (www.uftri.org) will begin its fly tying meetings the first Wednesday of the month, starting Sept. 4 through May 6, 2020. The meeting start 6:30 p.m. at the Knight of Columbus, 475 Sandy Lane, Warwick. The United Fly Tyers of Rhode Island is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to teaching fresh and salt water fly tying. Tables for beginners, intermediate, and sometimes advanced fly tyers are available. Materials and tools are provided for everyone who has paid the membership dues of $30 a year. Anyone interested in joining the may use them for one meeting before paying the yearly dues. Contact Jeff at (401) 741-0598 for further information.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass and bluefish. Striped bass fishing on the Cape Cod Canal and at Block Island remains very strong. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said, “The Canal is on fire. A good customer who fishes there regularly said the fishing was so good that he made twenty casts and had twenty hook ups. The mackerel is so thick anglers were scooping them to shore with their hands.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Bluefish to 27” are being taken in the upper bay at Sabin Point and at the Carousel at Crescent Park. One customer said bluefish and scup would come in waves, one hour the scup are there and then the next hour the scup move out and bluefish move in. We also have a lot of snapper blues in coves and bays. We also have a lot of school bass in the Warren River which seem to be feeding on schools of Atlantic Menhaden.” This weekend anglers on my boat found bluefish on the surface in the West Passage off Jamestown and hooked up with a couple of nice fish for table fare. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “We got out at night for bass and fishing was good. We had the right tides and good drifts. Friday night did see a full limit of bass to 20 pounds. Saturday started out very good but the wind picked up and the drift went to 3.5 knots and the fishing shut down.”
Scup fishing has been outstanding. We caught 15 or 20 twelve inch or larger fish drifting on Great Ledge on the west side of Jamestown about a mile north of the Jamestown Bridge this weekend. Macedo said, “Scup fishing has been awesome. Guys are catching 15 to 20 fish, all of them very nice size.”
Fluke and black sea bass. Fluke fishing has not been great. Macedo said, ”We have had just a few fish being taken off Newport and at the mouth of the Sakonnet.” I fished off Newport this weekend for 1.5 hours and managed just one 19” fish and several shorts. Charter customers on board found no fluke at the mouth of the Sakonnet River but ten nice black sea bass to 23”. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The fishing had its ups and downs. The full day boat has been seeing steady limits of bomber sea bass to over five pounds. The fluke fishing has really been a toss of the coin, good fishing one drift and then nothing on the next. The beginning of the week saw the best action with fluke to 10 pounds. Mid-week we did see a new pop of fish close to home with some anglers limiting out on the half day trips.”
Freshwater fishing. Littlefield, “Bass fishing with shiners seems to be good. A customer caught a 5.5 pound largemouth at Olney Pond in Lincoln. He also caught two trout which is a bit unusual this time of year with all this hot weather.”
Dave Monti 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, the American Saltwater Guides Association and the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Follow Capt. Dave on twitter @CaptDaveMonti. He’ll be tweeting about ‘Where’s the bite’, fishing regulations, national fishing policy, and issues that impact the fish. Forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.