Cameron Sears of Seekonk (13 years old) with a striped bass he caught at the North Rip casting soft plastics when fishing with his father and Jack Leyden.
Commission overruled by Secretary of Commerce
Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, notified the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) that he has found the State of New Jersey to be in compliance with the new Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan. The decision circumvents the work of the Commission that provides coastwide management of summer flounder (fluke) in our area.
Secretary Ross said in a letter to the Commission “New Jersey makes a compelling argument that the measures it implemented this year, despite increasing catch above the harvest target, will likely reduce total summer flounder mortality in New Jersey waters to a level consistent with the overall conservation objective for the recreational fishery.”
In a press release last week, the ASMFC said, “Based on the latest stock assessment information, summer flounder is currently experiencing overfishing. Spawning stock biomass has been declining since 2010 and is just 16% above the threshold. If the stock falls below the biomass threshold, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires the Council to initiate a rebuilding program, which could require more restrictive management measures.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act puts fish first in this nation to ensure that fish stocks are rebuilt. Having more than 40 fish stocks successfully rebuilt proves the fish first policy works. When decisions – such as the Secretary of Commerce’s decision allowing New Jersey to make their own summer flounder regulations – are allowed, they put the interests of individual states first.
This is a recipe for disaster. States are subject to local political pressure to put local interests first, and the fish will take a back seat. The big concern with last week’s decision is that other states will decide to fish the way they want to regardless of what’s best for the fish, and we could end up with total chaos.
We need to be advocates for public access
On Thursday, July 13th the City of Cranston Ordinance Committee passed an ordinance to eliminate fishing at the Ocean Avenue, Cranston public access point. The ‘No Fishing” ordnance will now go before the City Council for final approval on July 24. The ordinance in part read, “There shall be no fishing at the public access point where Ocean Avenue meets the shoreline at any time”.
The primary advocate for the ordinance was the Rhode Island Yacht Club, whose parking lot is adjacent to the public access fishing area. The Yacht Club commodore (chief volunteer officer), past commodores and some property owners in the area said “Why should we be subject to people fishing there adding congestion to the end of the street”, “The trash in the area is terrible.”, “I do not like walking down to the water with all those lines in the water.”, “We work hard and deserve to go to our boats without this hassle”, said a Yacht Club member.
Some neighbors as well as Councilpersons Steven Stycos and John Lanni did not support the ‘No Fishing’ ordinance saying if approved the ordinance would deprive the people of Cranston and the State of RI of public access to the Bay to fish which is a constitutional right.
Councilman Kenneth Hopkins, vice-chair of the Ordinance Committee read portions of the Rhode Island Constitution online out loud to the committee saying “We can do this, it’s not illegal, it says we have a right to regulate the resource.”
The Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association testified that they did not support the ‘No Fishing’ ordinance, nor did they support the trash or conduct of some of the people at the end of Ocean Road. They felt that banning fishing is not the solution. “One more ordinance is not going to help.” said Barbara Rubine, EWPA president. “We need a long term solution. Maybe a fishing pier should be built somewhere else in the City.”
I visited the Ocean Avenue site Tuesday afternoon, July 11 at 2:30 p.m. There were four people fishing there, no trash was on the ground and a trash bag was tied to the fence which looked like it had been placed there by the fishermen.
Councilman Stycos said that the City has done nothing to address the challenge but the first step might be placing trash containers and emptying them regularly at the site as they presently do at Stillhouse Cove a short walk away. Stycos said, “The intent of the ordinance is to prohibit fishermen from being at the access point, I do not know how you can single out a group like this.”
Councilman Stycos said “Seven years ago the Rhode Island Yacht Club asked me to address the challenge, I suggested we eliminate parking on portions of Ocean Road to help address the congestion issue, however, the Yacht Club did not like that solution because members (and those attending events at the Yacht club) park on the street.” Councilman Stycos said, “Initially the Yacht Club asked that the City of Cranston deed the public access point over to the Yacht Club, but I told them that this was not likely going to happen.”
As fishermen and access advocates, we need to be diligent about protecting public access points on lakes, ponds, coves, rivers, bays and the Atlantic Ocean. City Council advisors at the meeting said there were only three other fishing access point locations in the City of Cranston.
The ‘No Fishing’ ordinance is scheduled to go before the City Council at their July 24th meeting. The ‘No Fishing’ ordinance has a lot of political horsepower behind it has the sponsor of the ordinance is City Council president, Michael Farina and it has the support of the Ordinance Committee. The City Council meeting is open to the public.
Where’s the bite?
“Freshwater fishing bass fishing is good. Anglers are using shiners and soft plastics with success. The surprising thing is that the trout bite is still pretty good at Wood River. Customers are even catching some trout in local ponds that were stocked by DEM. This is unusual for this time of year.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence.
Striped bass. Angler Jack Leyden of North Kingstown fished the Block Island North Rip last week and said the striped bass were on the surface and they landed multiple bass casting black Slug-Go lures, even picked up a few trolling the Slug-Go. “The bass were thick with a lot of bait, birds feeding too.” Ken Landry of Ray’s Bait & Tackle said, “Last week we caught bass to 52 pounds fishing the southwest side of Block Island at night using eels.” Angler Mike Swain said, “We caught multiple striped bass Sunday at the North Rip casting soft plastics as the bass were high in the water column feeding.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, said, “The bass bite on the southwest side of Block Island is good. Customers are catching some very large fish there.”
Summer flounder (fluke) fishing along the southern coastal shore and Block Island is hot. Angler Jack Leyden said he, Steve Sears and children fished the Block Island North Rip for fluke and limited out last Thursday. “The rip was loaded with sand eels and the fluke were there.” said Leyden. Fishing the Bay, including the lower Bay around the Newport and Jamestown Bridges is slow. Anglers are catching some very nice fish but the summer flounder bite is a very slow pick. Congratulations to Dave Rea of Wickford for landing his first keeper fluke, a nice 22” fish, caught Saturday in the trench just south of Dutch Island when fishing on No Fluke Charters. Capt. Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet said, “Fluke fishing was great this week. We had four excellent days of fishing. Monday saw a near full boat limit close to the coastal shore while Thursday through Saturday fishing waters around Block Island paid big dividends. On Thursday's trip we had three extraordinary fluke taken between 11 and 13 pounds. Customer Tom Lombardi from Charlestown had an easy limit catch of fluke that totaled just over 30 pounds in combined weight on Saturday. Buck tail jigs of various kinds and hi lo Spro jigs set along with gulp seemed to do really well with the big fish this past week.”
Offshore fishing is starting to explode with bluefin and yellowfin tuna starting to be caught. Off shore fishermen Dick Pastore said on the RISAA blog Saturday, “Sharked at the horns in flat seas – 71 degree water. No drift. Two lazy blue sharks milled around but didn’t t take the mackerel baits which was a blessing. We then moved to the South West Ledge which was alive with bait and 74 degree water. Boils of large blue fish and strippers below. Diamond jigs and deadly dicks worked well. Tons of BSB and large scup on deadly dicks. Birds (shear waters) were working the boils.”