RISAA and Save the Bay working together...
BILL WOULD BAN COMMERCIAL TAKING OF MENHADEN IN NARRAGANSETT BAY
"Pogey Boats" would be prohibited from taking "the most important fish in the sea"
Bill H.5165 was introduced into the Rhode Island House of Representatives on
January 24, and would amend the R.I. General Law that designates Narragansett
Bay as a Menhaden Management Area.
In the past few years, evidence has been mounting that shows the beneficial
effects of menhaden to the marine environment. Each adult fish can filter about
four gallons of water per minute, removing large amounts of phytoplankton and
detritus from the water, leaving behind purer water that allows sunlight to
penetrate, encouraging the growth of aquatic plants, which in turn releases
oxygen into the Bay, encouraging the life of other fish and shellfish.
This bill was submitted at the request of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers
Association (RISAA), and was sponsored by Rep. Raymond Gallison, Rep. Peter
Kilmartin, Rep. Peter Palumbo, Rep. Peter Ginaitt, and Rep. Douglas Gablinski. (A companion bill will also be introduced in the Senate, but because of printing
deadlines, it hadn't been done yet. We will acknowledge the sponsors next month)
Because of the importance of this bill, RISAA has partnered with Save The Bay, a
group which will provide support and assistance in passing this legislation. "We know Menhaden are key to the ecosystem of Narragansett Bay, and deserve real
protection,” said John Torgan, Narragansett Baykeeper. “Save The Bay and RISAA
are joining forces to get better science and management for this most important
Other groups which have heard about this legislation have contacted RISAA and
offered support. Scientists from the region, especially the Chesapeake Bay area
where much study has been done already, have offered to help. Under the current law, Ark Bait, a company from Swansea, Massachusetts, is
allowed to seine millions of menhaden (called pogies locally) which they sell
mostly for lobster bait. The boat shows up each May at the same time menhaden
migrate into Narragansett Bay, and they stay for 4-6 weeks until most of these
fish have been harvested. When there aren't enough left to be financially
feasible to remain in Rhode Island, the boat moves on, spending the summer
fishing in New Jersey waters.
This law, if passed as written, would prohibit the taking of menhaden by purse
seine, which is the method currently used to harvest these fish. This would be
a strong addition to the current law which also bans taking menhaden for
reduction purposes (grinding them up for chicken feed, etc.).
The commercial seiners will still be able to take menhaden, but not in
Narragansett Bay where they are trapped in the Providence River, or along the
shoreline or harbors - easy targets for their spotter aircraft that directs the
boats to scoop up huge schools in a single day.
Beside protecting these fish for their water filtering qualities, an added bonus
is the possible increase in tourism and financial benefit to the state. Menhaden are prized by recreational fishermen because they are the primary and
most desired food source for most local game fish such as striped bass, bluefish
squeteague, and summer flounder. When the menhaden are plentiful in
Narragansett Bay, so are the striped bass, drawing anglers from all over the region.
Lobstermen would also benefit from this bill. They often complain that striped
bass eat lobsters. That is because their primary food source, menhaden, has
been removed, so they eat to survive. By stopping the Ark Bait Company from
taking most of the menhaden, striped bass and other game fish will consume the
fish nature intended, and this will help the lobster industry.
So, it would seem that passage of this bill is a win-win for almost everyone
concerned. The fish provide a benefit to recreational anglers, lobstermen,
Rhode Island’s economy, and most of all, contributes to a healthy Narragansett Bay.
(The complete text of the bill follows)
2007 — H 5165
S T A T E O F R H O D E I S L A N D
IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
JANUARY SESSION, A.D. 2007
A N A C T
RELATING TO FISH AND WILDLIFE — MENHADEN MANAGEMENT AREA
Introduced By: Representatives Gallison, Kilmartin, Palumbo, Ginaitt, and Gablinske Date Introduced: January 24, 2007 Referred To: House Environment and Natural Resources
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Sections 20-4.1-1 and 20-4.1-3 of the General Laws in Chapter 20-4.1
entitled “Menhaden Management Area” are hereby amended to read as follows:
20-4.1-1. Designation of menhaden management area. — Narragansett Bay in its
entirety is designated a menhaden management area. The area shall include the
east and west passages of Narragansett Bay, Mt. Hope Bay, and the Sakonnet
River, and be bordered on the
south by a line from Bonnet Point to Beavertail Point to Castle Hill Light. The
southern boundary will then extend from Land’s End to Sachuset Point and then to
20-4.1-3. Prohibition on the taking of menhaden. — (a) (1) The taking of
menhaden for reduction purposes (fish meal) is prohibited in Rhode Island and
all state waters. A vessel will be considered in the reduction (fish meal)
business if any portion of the vessel’s catch is sold for reduction purposes.
(2) The director of environmental management shall have the power to make
emergency rules regarding this prohibition to protect the public health and
safety from an unexpected hazard or risk. The marine fisheries council shall be
notified of all emergency rules on or before their effective date. SECTION 2. Section 20-4.1-2 of the General Laws in Chapter 20-4.1 entitled
“Menhaden Management Area” is hereby repealed.
SECTION 3. Chapter 20-4.1 of the General Laws entitled “Menhaden Management
Area” is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:
20-4.1-2.1. Purse seining prohibited. – It shall be illegal to harvest menhaden
by use of purse seine in the Menhaden Management Area.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect upon passage.
EXPLANATION BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
OF A N A C T
RELATING TO FISH AND WILDLIFE — MENHADEN MANAGEMENT AREA
This act would prohibit the use of purse seining for the harvesting of menhaden.
This act would take effect upon passage.
This is a great piece of legislation that hopefully has a chance at getting passed. It will take a lot of support. I spoke with Steve Medeiros (RISAA President) Monday night at their meeting. He suggested that we wait on the letters and calls until a date is set for a hearing in the house. Timing he felt was critical. I will keep everyone posted as I hear more.
This really makes sense.
Finally a bill that makes a lot of sense. Protect the bait and the bass will increase in size and numbers. No Axe to grind here . Just protection of the bait. Hope it passes. FishHawk
I`ve held off because Steve said to wait but when he says it`s time to go I`ll be the first one on the bandwagon. By kicking the reduction boats out of NJ and closing the western end of Long Island sound, they have brought the pogies back and had the best fishing in recent times. The pogies we saw all along the coast were the result of that decision. So many people complain about the lack of big fish, blaming everyone and everything, fact is they just got shortstopped in Jersey because they had plenty of bait
I would like to know what happened to the law they had past around 8 years ago, I personally have replies to letters I sent to represenatives back then? The people voted for a resolution in 2004 for moneys for three Ten Mile River Dams fish ladders. Construction was supose to have started last fall FY2006 and FY2007 I am guessing the money went into the General Fund and was spent. Every project to do with the environment in Rhode Island never gets done ask Steve Mederios to ask his Governor friend maybe he can get an answer from him, I can't , to get a true answer I had to go Federal.
I raised the question through the RISAA email group as it was my understanding that they got permission to lift the herring manually last year and that construction was either underway or scheduled to start soon. I will let you know if I hear anything.
Sean, It was through me that got the ball rolling to liftherring over the dam. I talked with a City of East Providence manager incharge of the area. When I got involved the only way you could get there was sneak in, or go in by boat, most of which where fishermen illegally taking some to be used as bait. I still have the e-mail ,if you want to know their names I can look them up. Everytime it seems that I clean out a paper file, something in the file needs to be approached again. What happened to the money that was approved by the taxpayers back in 2004 for the project? I quit RISAA a year or so ago as they are not serving the purpose of the fishermen, only the ones they can get the publicity for. Ask about ROW's. A hint is Quonochontaug Breachway.
Perhaps I am a cranky old man, but I found 1 letter written to me by Daniel DaPonte Senate District 42 Dated Feb. 26,1999. Dear Mr. Burton: Thank you for writting me concerning bass fishing in the State of RI. I find your letter to be most educational and informative. I appreciate you taking the time to share this information with me. I will certainly apply your expertise in my deliberations and I will espouse conservative measures on your behalf.
The ocean is RI's most valuable resource and I believe that it should be protected to provide enjoyment and sustenance for future generations. I applaud you for your coviction and vision. Mr. Burton,if I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Good luck and thank you for your time/ Sincerely, John DaPonte, Senator, District 42
I won't bore you too much, an editorial published in the Providence Journal March 20,1999under the tittle of " Save Menhaden from commercial fishing" I still haven't found the bill no. though. For me what is going on in RI is stealing from our natural resources. Remember people money for the fish ladders were voted for in 2004 referendum for conservation. The money has disappeared. From what I can find out there is going to be a 85 million dollar bond issue where the money will be reinstalled from this bond, what if it isn't approved? An other editorial in the Journal in response to my editorial "Keep menhaden out of the statehouse" authored by Russ Wallis, Everett Mills, Kevin Sullivan, and John Sorlien. I guess they succeeded, for how much?I just found the bill number back then. H-5935, and H-5221
Time to Act...
Now is the time to contact the RI Representatives and voice your support for Bill H.5165.
Below are the contacts:
Representative Peter Ginaitt
177 Hope Avenue, Warwick, RI 02889
Representative Raymond Gallison
50 King Philip Ave, Bristol, RI 02809
Representative Peter Kilmartin
598 Armistice Blvd, Pawtucket, RI 02861
Representative Peter Palumbo
67 Kearney St, Cranston, RI 02920
Representative Douglas Gablinske
45 Kickemuit Ave, Bristol, RI 02809
Sample Text for an email:
Dear Representative xxxx
Thank you for sponsoring Bill H.5165 that would prohibit the purse seining of
menhaden in Narragansett Bay.
(briefly tell them that:
- menhaden are important filter feeders that will help to improve the ecosystem
of the Bay
- menhaden are an important food source for many species of fish that are
recreationally and commercially important)
Please do all that you can to ensure passage of this important legislation.
Thank you again
Then put your
Members of the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources:
Representative Laurence W. Ehrhardt firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (Vice Chair) email@example.com
Representative Joanne M. Giannini firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Peter T. Ginaitt (Chair) email@example.com
Representative Arthur Handy firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Jan Malik email@example.com
Representative Joseph M. McNamara firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Eileen S. Naughton email@example.com
Representative Amy G. Rice firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative David A. Segal email@example.com
Representative Susan Story firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Raymond J. Sullivan Jr. email@example.com
Representative Kenneth A. Vaudreuil firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Donna M. Walsh email@example.com
Sample Language for Committee Members
Dear Representative xxxxx
Soon House Bill H.5165 will come before the House Environment Committee, and I
urge you to consider a favorable vote on this important legislation which will
protect menhaden in Narragansett Bay.
(select ONE OR TWO of he following as your next paragraph)
Menhaden filter up to 6.5 gallons of seawater per minute; they eat zooplankton,
phytoplankton, and detritus in the water and take 31 times their weight per year
out of the water. For every 1 million pounds of menhaden that seiners take out
of Narragansett Bay they are removing the potential filtering of 31 million
pounds of particulate matter per year from the bay. Menhaden are nature’s best
natural response and feedback mechanism to combat nutrient pollution. .... This bill is intended to improve conservation of menhaden, not to put anyone out
of business. While the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission states that
menhaden are not overfished coastwide, good data does not exist for Narragansett
Bay. ASMFC now recognizes that stocks are depleted locally, and that there are
fewer adults and juveniles each year. This warrants stronger conservation
measures. We believe that stronger conservation will ensure a better long-term
future for commercial fishing and lobstering as well as for recreational fishing
and water quality in the Bay.
Striped bass are opportunistic feeders and they will eat shellfish, including
lobsters, if sufficient forage fish are not available. Menhaden are the
preferred forage fish for stripers and other predatory fish in Narragansett Bay,
so a more healthy menhaden population would likely result in less predation on
lobsters by stripers.
A healthier menhaden population may improve shellfish stocks by reducing
nutrient pollution that has been shown to be very detrimental to shellfish and
water quality in general. Healthier menhaden stocks will also benefit sea birds
and marine mammal populations.
A healthy stock of menhaden in the Bay will greatly improve recreational fishing
in Narragansett Bay. The recreational fishing industry in Rhode Island directly
generates $160 million each year to the local economy. Investing in conservation
ensures the long-term protection of that industry as well as the commercial
fishing and lobster industries.
Even with a more restrictive management area, menhaden for bait will still be
available for lobstermen and fishermen. The majority of menhaden currently used
for commercial bait are taken from waters off New Jersey.
Conclude your message with a thank you and sign your
Thank you in advance for taking the time to support this important bill.
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