Senators introduce Fishermen’s Fairness Act

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Last week Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse introduced Senate Bill S. 4804, the Rhode Island Fishermen’s Fairness Act. The bill would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the fishing law of this nation, to add Rhode Island to the list of seven states represented on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. The Council is one of eight regional bodies that regulate fishing with NOAA.

The Senate bill would give Rhode Island two new voting seats on the council. Many of the fish caught off our coast are regulated by the Mid-Atlantic Council, yet Rhode Island has no representation on the Council.

Senator Reed said, “The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is a key decision making body that determines what happens off the coast of Rhode Island, but our state doesn't have a seat on the Council.” Senator Whitehouse, said, "As climate change heats up the oceans, fish that once lived in the warmer mid-Atlantic have migrated north to the waters off New England.”

Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline of Rhode Island are expected to introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

Ocean-based Climate Solutions Act to address climate change impacts

On Oct. 20, the House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) unveiled his Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act with his co-lead, House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), original cosponsors.
The Act was introduced by more than a dozen members of the House of Representatives to address the ocean impacts of climate change and reform federal ocean management to better account for climate mitigation.

“A healthy ocean is key to fighting the climate crisis,” Grijalva said last week. “This bill provides a roadmap for ocean and coastal climate resilience, and responsibly uses them to curb the pollution that is intensifying the climate crisis. We must stop the ongoing damage to our oceans to protect the food, jobs and coastlines that millions of Americans depend on.”
“The ocean is a powerful ally in the climate fight, and unleashing its potential will help us reach our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier,” said Rep. Kathy Castor. “The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act incorporates many of the recommendations in our Climate Crisis Action Plan, which gives Congress a roadmap for creating a healthier, more resilient, and more just America. It will unleash the incredible power of the ocean and address the threat that offshore drilling poses to America’s coastal communities”.

In Rhode Island and Massachusetts fishers have felt the impact of climate change. The fish I catch today as are charter captain are different in species and abundance that what I caught ten years ago. The cold water fish such as winter flounder, American lobster and cod have left for colder deeper water and warm water fish such as scup and black sea bass are her in greater abundance. So stocks are shifting up and down the east coast.

Highlights of the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act

Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The bill supports the transition to a clean energy economy by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with ocean sectors and increasing ocean-based renewable energy—helping us to move away from fossil fuels and protect the ocean and coastal habitats that are important to healthy fish, marine wildlife, and coastal economies.

Increases Carbon Storage in Blue Carbon Ecosystems. The bill recognizes the carbon storage potential and other co-benefits provided by “blue carbon” ecosystems like salt marshes, sea grasses, and mangroves. These ecosystems absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and safely store it at a rate that of forests on land. They also protect coastal communities by limiting the impacts of coastal erosion, flooding, and storms—all while providing habitat for marine wildlife and fisheries.

Promotes Coastal Resiliency and Adaptation to protect our coasts and communities from the climate impacts we can’t avoid. It authorizes investment in coastal restoration and resilience that is a win-win-win for our economy, our frontline communities, and our environment.

Other key components of the bill include improving ocean protection, supporting climate ready fisheries, addressing ocean health challenges, and restoring U.S. leadership in international ocean governance.

A text of the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act can be viewed at https://bit.ly/37CBNKP, a section-by-section summary at https://bit.ly/2HreuYY and a fact sheet on the bill can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3m35EzP.

Where’s the bite?

Tautog, scup and black sea bass. Tautog fishing has been excellent with anglers catching their limit (five fish/person/day, 16” minimum size, 10 fish/boat maximum) in the lower bay and off the coastal shore from the Sakonnet River month down to Watch Hill. I fished the West Passage north of the Jamestown Bridge and did well in 20 feet off water off the west side of Jamestown. Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle said, “Anglers are limiting out fishing in fairly low water (20’ to 30’ of water) for this time of year. They are fishing rock piles with success in the lower bay around Newport, Jamestown and Narraganset. Customers are still catching large sea bass and scup when tautog fishing.” John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said, “Few keepers are being caught in the Providence River, just a lot of shorts but the bite south of Conimicut Light is outstanding with many angler catching their limit with 6, 7 and 8 pound fish in the mix. Newport Brenton Reef area is yielding tautog and some large scup and black sea bass. I would expect the scup will leave this week as the water gets colder.” Harrison Gatch of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “The tautog bite is great with customs catching them everywhere, from shore and boats on just about every rock pile. Last week we weighted in a 13 pound fish so there are fish of size being caught.”

Striped bass and blue fish. “Anglers are catching striped bass from the southern coastal beaches and just about off every Breachway. Pt. Judith area is yielding fish from shore and boats, with bay anglers doing well off Jamestown and Newport,” said Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane. “Fishing for striped bass from the beaches has slowed down with slot fish (28” to less than 35”) being caught occasionally as the fish move in and off the beaches. The bluefish bite is off and false albacore are not being caught either,” said Harrison Gatch of Watch Hill. “Striped bass fishing in the Narragansett Bay from shore at Bullocks Cove and Kettle Point is OK.  Anglers catching school size bass with an occasional keeper mixed in using soft plastic shad lures,” said Littlefield of Archie’s.

“Freshwater fishing is good with a lot of action in ponds stocked with trout earlier this month by DEM.  Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown and Carbuncle Pond, Coventry are performing well for anglers,” said Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle. “Low water conditions slowed pond stocking in the area. So not a lot of anglers are freshwater fishing,” said Gatch of Watch Hill. Littlefield of Archie’s Bait said, “Freshwater fishing for bass has slowed and with the cold weather this week it is expected to drop off more.”

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. Forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at dmontifish@verizon.net or visit www.noflukefishing.com and his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com.
                                                                                     

Dave Monti

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