A U. S. House of 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 Wednesday 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 recover time for ecosystems in the event of an oil spill.
“We know how important it is to protect our oceans and coastal waterways,” said Langevin, the Energy Task Force Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition in the House. “It’s time we move past dangerous, dirty fossil fuels and increase our investment in clean energy solutions.”
States support fishing law consistency
OK, you fish Block Island and want to bring your black sea bass, summer flounder or scup catch back to your home port in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut or New York. You caught the fish in Rhode Island state waters within the three-mile limit surrounding Block Island (federal water is from three to 200 miles offshore) and you only have a state fishing permit.
To get those Block Island fish home, you need to cross federal waters, as Block Island’s northern tip is about seven miles from shore, and you may be transporting them illegally.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has been advocating to establish a Block Island Sound Transit Zone for state-only permitted vessels fishing in Rhode Island state waters around Block Island and returning to home port state waters.
The transit zone would mirror the current transit area for striped bass and allow for transit by state-only permitted commercial, party/charter vessels and private recreational anglers with summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass on board that were legally harvested in state waters.
This week, Jason McNamee, Chief of DEM’s Division of Marine Fisheries, sent a letter to Michael Pentony, NOAA’s Regional Administrator, in regard to DEM’s strong support of Framework Adjustment 14 to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. Framework Adjustment 14 addresses the Block Island Sound Transit Zone and contains two other measures.
A second measure seeks conservation equivalency as an annual management consideration for black sea bass recreational fishery. It would enable federal measures to be waived, providing that states, acting through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, implements measures that limit harvest to the coastwide recreational harvest limit. This already occurs, but requires for separate federal measures for federal waters. The measure would aim to have one set of regulations applicable to all recreational fishermen.
The third measure would enable a maximum-size limit to be established in Federal waters for the recreational management of summer flounder and black sea bass. Although the states are able to set a maximum-size limit for fish caught in state waters, and thus enable consideration of slot limits, under current rules, only a minimum size can be specified in Federal waters.
Let’s hope it the transit zone in particular becomes law soon.
Where’s the bite?
Striped bass, false albacore, bonito and bluefish: Tom Coots of Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay said, “The striped bass bite for larger fish is off in the Cape Cod Canal right now. Anglers are caching school bass with an occasional keeper mixed in. We are just waiting for the fall run. However, bonito, false albacore and Spanish mackerel fishing has exploded. Anglers are hooking up all over, particularly along the eastern coast of Buzzards Bay. My son successfully caught them for about six hours this week.” Matt Conti of Sung Harbor Marina in South Kingstown said, “The bite along the coast was slow this weekend after the storm with turbid, dirty water. Block Island has been the best bet for anglers, the bite there has been good. The fish have been smaller but there are keepers. We also have a good run of bonito and false albacore.” Bluefish with striped bass mixed in have been schooling on the surface in Narragansett Bay. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle in Riverside said, “We haven’t seen bluefish like this in 12 years. They are boiling on the surface at Sabin Point, Barrington Beach and Lavin’s Marina.”
Fluke, black sea bass and scup. Fluke fishing has been off. Capt. Frank Blount of the Frances Fleet said, “Fluke fishing seemed to take a nosedive, with bass taking off like a rocket. We had near full boat limits to five pounds.” The black sea bass limit in Rhode Island now until the end of the year is seven fish/person/day. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “We had some keeper fluke caught at Sabin Point this week.”
Cod fishing exploded this week at Cox Ledge. Capt. Rick Bellavance of Priority Too Charters said, “Monday an angler on my boat caught a super-sized cod (20-plus pounds). The monster cod ate a clam around the southwest corner of Cox Ledge on a rock pile. Overall we caught 15 keeper cod along with huge black sea bass and scup.” Angler Paul Boutiette posted on the RISAA blog, “I jigged on Cox Ledge with a Viking 16-oz. jig…one friend hooked up using clam and landed a nice fat 21-lb. cod.”
Tautog fishing is just starting as anglers are beginning to target them. Call your bait shop before visiting them for green crabs, as only a few have them in stock. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina said, “Few anglers are targeting tautog, but those that have seem to be meeting with good success. The local hot spots seem to be good, even areas in deeper water off Narragansett and Newport to 60 feet seem to be holding fish already.”
Freshwater fishing continues to be strong for large and small mouth bass. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “A customer caught a 5.3-pound largemouth bass in a Rehoboth Pond, and the Brickyard Pond in Barrington continues to yield bass and white perch for anglers.” Shiners have been the bait of choice.