House bill passes to block offshore drilling
A U. S. House or Representatives bill (H.R. 1941), the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, which would ban oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, passed last week by a 238 to 189 vote. The bill would reject a Trump Administration proposal, currently held up in the courts, to reverse protections of these waters that were put in place by President Obama.
All New England congressional delegations voted for the bill to ban oil and gas drilling off our coast.
Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) submitted an amendment to the bill that passed. It requires the Government Accountability Office to produce a report outlining the impacts of offshore drilling on coastal communities and their economies. The report would include an outline of how oil and gas companies interact with stakeholders (including fishermen), a description of the impact of offshore oil and gas extraction on tourism, an analysis of any limitations of the data available, and a description of the recovery time for ecosystems in the event of an oil spill.
“We know how important it is to protect our oceans and coastal waterways…It’s time we move past dangerous, dirty fossil fuels and increase our investment in clean energy solutions,” said Langevin, the Energy Task Force Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition in the House.
Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council
The Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) makes recreational and commercial fishing regulation recommendations to the Department of Environmental Management Director. The Director takes their decisions, public comments and input from the Marine Affairs Division into consideration. About 90 percent of RIMFC decisions are made State fishing law by the director.
Highlights of the September 9 Council meeting:
Council appointments: Katie Eagan, a member of the Shellfish Advisory Panel, a shellfisher and an active member of the fishing community in the East Bay, was appointed by the Governor and approved by the State Senate as a Council person and attended her first meeting last week. Eagan, who was elected chair of the Shellfish Advisory Panel, is the first female to be appointed to the RIMFC. Christopher Rein, a representative from the scientific community was appointed to the Council for a second three year term; and David Monti, vice chairman of the Council, charter captain and recreational representative to the Council was appointed to his second full three year term.
Advisory Panel Positions: Some commercial and recreational positions are available on the Industry and Shellfish Advisory Panels. Contact Peter Duhamel, Principal Planner and Council contact at email@example.com.
Public comments: Two requests are being explored by DEM. A request to allow two commercial license possession limits from a single vessel for safety, environmental and economic reasons; and a request to allow direct sales for marine products form vessels to consumers.
Offshore wind regional fisheries science effort: Jason McNamee, Chief of the Marine Affairs Division of DEM, announced a Request for Proposals for pilot studies for regional fisheries monitoring in wind farm areas. McNamee said, “The proposal request is a collaboration between Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).” $1-million is available for recreational or commercial pilot projects, proposals due October 17. Visit https://www.masscec.com/request-proposals-pilot-studies-regional-fisheries-monitoring.
State supports fishing law consistency: The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) expressed its support for a Block Island Sound Transit Zone for state-only permitted commercial, party/charter vessels and private anglers fishing for summer flounder, scup and black sea bass in Rhode Island state waters around Block Island and returning to home ports going through Federal waters. The zone would mirror the current transit area for striped bass. Framework Adjustment 14 to the NOAA Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan addresses the Transit Zone as well as a measure that seeks conservation equivalency as an annual management consideration for black sea bass recreational fishery. The third measure of Adjustment 14 would enable a maximum size limit to be established in Federal waters for the recreational management of summer flounder and black sea bass allowing future slot limits if desired.
Economic impact of fishing
The Council reviewed highlights from NOAA’s annual ‘Fisheries Economics of the U.S.’ report to Congress that relates the economic impact of commercial and recreational fishing in Rhode Island, New England and the United States. According to NOAA’s report commercial fishing in Rhode Island has a $333-million sales impact annually and recreational fishing has a $412-million sales impact annually. Report link: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/content/fisheries-economics-united-states-2016 .
Meeting minutes from the Monday, September 9 Council meeting will be posted at www.dem.ri.gov.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass, bluefish, bonito and false albacore. Manny Macedo of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “It’s been bluefish, bluefish and bluefish. They have been all over the East Passage from snapper blues to fish in the 12” to 24” range. There are a few striped bass mixed in. We have not seen a bluefish run like this in years. Monday the false albacore were all the way up to Barrington Beach along with the bluefish.” Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick said, “Bluefish are all over the upper bay with an abundance of false albacore at the West Wall. Anglers are having luck with Daddy Mac lures.”
Tautog fishing is slow. Tom Giddings said, “Anglers caught mostly small fish off Jamestown this week. They seem to be in but just have to get larger.” We fished off North Kingstown at General Rock and most of the fish were short tautog this weekend. Macedo said, “One customer limited out (three fish) on tautog at the Stone Bridge, Tiverton.” Angler Derek Kolodziejczak reports on the RISAA blog, “We fished the south side of Whale Rock (Sunday) in depths of 16’-30’. We had plenty of action but only managed one keeper tog. Lots of scup if you wanted them.”
Black sea bass, scup and summer flounder. It has been a tough summer for flounder bite and it still is. Anglers on my boat caught seven keeper black sea bass to 20”and as many keeper scup as they wanted in the Newport bridge area Saturday under windy conditions. “The scup and black sea bass bite in the mid-bay area is great but few keeper black sea bass are being taken in the upper bay,” said Giddings of the Tackle Box. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “The fluke fishing is off with black bass sea bass taking off like a rocket. We had near full boat limits to five pounds. The sea bass limit is now seven per person.”
Tuna bite. Capt. Blount of The Frances Fleet said, “We had great results on our three-day trip. We managed 30 yellows to 100 pounds. Trolling did seemed to have the best results with 22 of the fish.”
Freshwater. “The largemouth, perch and pike bite have all been good. Little Pond in Warwick is closed due to algae, but prior to the closure the fishing there was good too,” said Giddings.
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.