A spawning cod gets tagged on the charter fishing vessel Priority Too as part of the cod acoustic telemetry study conducted by BOEM.

For now, the commercial harvest of striped bass on the Cape Cod Canal is not allowed, but the emergency regulation enacted earlier this year is receiving a virtual public hearing on Aug. 3 at 6 p.m.

The regulation prohibits any angler from retaining any striped bass at the Canal that do not conform to the recreational striped bass slot limit (28 to less than 35 inches) and daily bag limit (1-fish per angler). Additionally, persons may not possess any commercial-sized striped bass (35 inches or greater) within 1,000 feet of the Canal, unless that fish was lawfully caught elsewhere and is being actively transported by vessel or vehicle to a seafood dealer for sale.

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is holding the hearing via Zoom. To attend, login at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84361223942?pwd=cG5YbFdJYmdvckVFYS9tcGRSVkR6dz09. The call-in number is 1-312-626-6799 and password is 959101.

DMF will accept written public comment through 5 p.m. on Aug. 14. Please address all written comments to Director Daniel McKiernan. Comments may be e-mailed under the subject “Public Comment on Cape Cod Canal” and sent to marine.fish@mass.gov or sent via post to the attention of Jared Silva at 251 Causeway Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02114.

Research broadens in wind farm area

The South Fork Wind Farm Research and Monitoring plan gives me hope — hope and evidence that government, fishing interests, developers and scientists can work together for the benefit of all the people of the United States of America.

Don’t get me wrong, no one stakeholder group is getting all it wants, but this plan includes research that will safeguard the fish and help move badly needed offshore renewable energy forward.

Stakeholder input like this is the very foundation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We need to keep this law strong so science and stakeholder input always have a place in policy making in this great nation.

The 15 turbine South Fork Wind Farm is located on Cox Ledge, which consists of rich recreational and commercial fishing grounds 19 to 24 miles southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island. The South Fork plan includes support of two ongoing studies and four new studies that fishermen have been advocating for through the Fisheries Advisory Board (FAB) of the Coastal Resource Management Council of Rhode Island.

In May, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), in conjunction with the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, announced five studies it will be funding in offshore wind farm areas. The aim of these studies is to measure positive or negative cumulative impacts across a broader region that include multiple wind farms.

The aim of the studies is to measure the negative or positive impacts offshore wind farms could have on fish and invertebrate species before, during and after construction. The Rhode Island FAB led by Lanny Dellinger, chairman, did a good job with industry input. Commercial fishing industry facilitation of recommendations at the March 2020 meeting was done by Fred Mattera, president of the Commercial Fisheries Center of RI, who consolidated fishermen concerns and research requests on the monitoring plan.

Greggory DeCelles, fisheries science specialist on the strategic permitting team for Ørsted said, “The guiding principles developed at the Block Island Wind Farm have been applied to South Fork’s Monitoring Plan. We are committed to conducting sound, credible science, and biological surveys, developed in coordination with the commercial and recreational fisheries as well as state and federal agencies.”

Highlights of the monitoring plan include a gillnet survey that will target winter skates and monkfish; a beam trawl survey to study demersal fish and invertebrates because it is easier to maneuver in tight spaces where a limited amount of seabed can be sampled safely; a ventless trap survey will be conducted to collect data on lobster and crab resources; a ventless fish pot survey to study black sea bass, scup and tautog, which are not often represented well in trawl surveys, so the idea is to use fish pots, which are more suited for complex sea bottoms; and a passive acoustic telemetry study tagging species of fish with acoustic transmitters, their movements and habitat use will be tracked using receivers on fixed buoys, as well as an autonomous glider vessel that travels the ocean.

Ørsted has pledged to coordinate with and contribute to ongoing and planned acoustic telemetry projects. Projects underway include a BOEM cod spawning study and a pelagic study that will examine movements of bluefin tuna, blue sharks and shortfin mako sharks using the same technology.

“Ørsted is also committed to conducting a variety of monitoring studies to understand the potential impacts of offshore wind development on marine mammals, birds and bats, and changes to the benthic habitat and community structure,” DeCelles said.

We need renewable energy to combat climate change impacts. This research and monitoring plan is an example of how fishermen, developers and government can work together to make it happen.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass and bluefish: Jeff Fraser of Red Top Sporting Goods, Buzzards Bay, said, “This week, anglers had success with top water lures like pencil poppers on the Cape Cod Canal. We had a 46-inch and a couple of 38-inch fish. If the fish are down anglers are using soft plastic jigs with success.” Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick said, “Customers are catching bluefish in Greenwich Bay with large stripers in the 40-pound range being caught at Block Island. Some reports of stripers at the Hurricane Barrier in Providence being taken with poppers and swimming lures at dawn and dusk and eels at night.” “Larger keepers are being taken along with school bass on the coastal shore. This week, a customer caught at 50” bluefish off the jetty. And at Block Island, the bite is good.” said Peter Silva of Quonnie Bait & Tackle, Charlestown.

Summer flounder (fluke), black sea bass, and scup: John Littlefield said, “Anglers are catching large scup but fewer fish than in the past. Most are catching five to 10 fish. The bite is good off Veterans Memorial Park Way, Sabin Point, Colt State Park and in the Mt. Hope Bridge area.” Peter Silva of Quonnie Bait & Tackle said, “The fluke bite has improved with anglers catching keeper fluke in about 40 feet of water along the shore. Large hubcap-size scup and black sea bass are being caught too.” “Large black sea bass are still being caught around Cleveland Ledge. We weighed in a five- and a 5.5-pound fish this week.” said Jeff Fraser of Red Top Sporting Goods.

Freshwater fishing is strong: “Ponds with a good largemouth and sun fish bite include Gorton Pond, Warwick; Lincoln Woods Only Pond; and Barber Pond, South Kingstown.” said Ferrara of Ray’s Bait. Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box said, “Customers are catching big largemouth bass. One customer landed a 5.6-pound largemouth bass at Warwick Lake.” “Customers are catching 3- to 4-pound largemouth bass at Slater Park, Pawtucket.” said Littlefield of Archie’s Bait.

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.

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