Gear up for quahoging in cold water with waders and rubber gloves to keep you dry and warm in early spring when you hand-rake recreationally for quahogs.

“We had an ad hoc Shellfish Advisory Panel for some time now, but now we want to formalize it with legislation.” said Dan McKiernan, director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and chairman of the Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative .

This week, the MIS released a 2021-2025 strategic plan. Recommendations focused on how to balance competing demands for shellfish resources in Massachusetts.

“State waters, where shellfish are harvested and grown, are some of the most heavily utilized and economically, ecologically and culturally valuable shared spaces in Massachusetts. Because many stakeholders share Massachusetts waters, there are complex challenges when it comes to managing them.” said the MSI taskforce in a media advisory.

To address the growing need for more effective stakeholder coordination to manage these challenges, the MIS task force released recommendations on how to balance the growing and competing demands for shellfish resources and create a viable shellfish industry in Massachusetts.

The formation of the Shellfish Advisor Panel was just one of many recommendations.

“How to handle and anticipate climate change impacts is a big part of the plan,” said Michael DeVasto, a member of the task force and a shellfish grower/harvester from Wellfleet, At an online press conference, “For example, three and four years ago we had and ice event that growers had to react to. They had to retrieve their gear from the water to avoid having it destroyed. How to handle such impacts is a plan consideration.”

Aquaculture growers at the meeting related how they were part of shellfish growers climate coalition that has 200 members. Companies that grow seed are particularly vulnerable to climate impacts of warming water, acidification, etc.

Recreational shellfishing and the public in general play a big role in the new plan. Commercial fishers currently report their catch but recreational shellfishermen do not.

“Getting a handle on shellfish harvested by recreational anglers is important to get the total picture,” DeVasto said. “One easy way to get a handle of recreational angler catch is to have recreational shellfishermen give an estimate of what they caught the previous year when they apply for permit.”

The best part of the plan is that it is not going to cost the state a lot of money to kick off the plan.

“The formation of the shellfish advisory panel (comprised by volunteers) is not going to cost a lot and research partners at Universities and colleges will be explored along with grants.” said director McKiernan.

The plan in its entirety can be seen on DMF’s website at massshellfishinitiative.org.

Slow zone north of Cape Cod to protect right whales

NOAA Fisheries announced a new voluntary right whale Slow Zone this week. On May 2, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Slocum glider acoustically detected the presence of right whales north of Cape Cod, MA. This Slow Zone is in effect through May 17.

Mariners are requested to route around this or transit through it at 10 knots or less.

Slow Zone Coordinates: are 42 40 N, 42 00 N, 069 40 W and 070 34 W. Visit NOAA Fisheries website for coordinates on all slow zones.

Quahog Week May 17-23

Rhode Island Quahog Week, May 17-23, is the perfect way to celebrate the quahog. The week-long celebration highlights restaurants, markets, fisherman and food based businesses committed to growing Rhode Island’s local food economy with a special focus on quahogs.

Throughout Rhode Island participating restaurants and markets will feature quahog-based dishes and specials during Quahog Week.

Visit www.dem.ri.gov/riseafood/news.php for a sample of the mouthwatering menu items and specials being offered during Quahog Week.

Learn how to fly fish

Join Rhode Island DEM on May 22 from 9 am. to 3 p.m. to learn about the equipment you will need to fly fish, how to tie a fly, and how to properly cast a fly line and then how to fish a pond stocked with trout. Equipment, materials and a box lunch will b provided. Families with children 10 and older are invited to participate. Space is limited and registration required. Fee is $15/person. Contact Kimberly Sullivan to register at kimberly.sullivan@dem.ri.gov.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass: I caught (very) small school bass in Greenwich Cove, RI Sunday and will try again Thursday night. The water temperature was 52 degrees. East End Eddie Doherty, Cape Cod Canal fishing expert said, “Loads of schoolies in Buttermilk Bay and some in the Canal, but the water temperature is still a few degrees under the magic 55 degrees.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “Anglers have been catching larger school bass with a keeper caught Saturday night in the Seekonk River.” “School striped bass are in the Pawcatuck River, coves and estuaries but no reports of multiple keepers being caught,” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside, said “No reports of keepers, but anglers are caching school bass from shore at Sabin Point and along Veterans Memorial Parkway, East Providence.”

Tautog: “One customer fished Conimicut Light this weekend and limited out and another could hook up with any keepers there,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle. “Tautog fishing picked up this weekend with large keepers caught by Capt. BJ Silvia of Flippin-Out Charters and Billy Silvia reached his commercial 10-fish limit this week fishing the mouth of Bristol Harbor,” said Henault. “Things are slow here with tautog. The Connecticut season started and there were no fish as the water was too cold,” said Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly.

Squid fishing: The squid are in and on the move in Hyannis, Jamestown, Newport and the Sakonnet River. “It is often hit or miss as squid are constantly moving,” said Henault.

Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to dmontifish@verison.net or visit www.noflukefishing.com.

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