PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has enacted new recreational regulations for scup, summer flounder, and black sea bass for 2013. All of the changes are consistent with recommendations provided to DEM Director Janet Coit by the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council.
DEM reminds all saltwater anglers that a 2013 RI saltwater license is needed to fish recreationally in all marine waters – go to www.saltwater.ri.gov for more information, including how to obtain a license online or at a local vendor.
The season for scup opens today, and runs through the end of the calendar year. There is a new, reduced minimum size in effect: 10 inches, down from 10.5 inches last year. There is also a new, increased daily bag limit in effect: 30 fish per person per day, up from 20 fish last year.
In addition, a new, experimental shore mode fishery program for scup has been enacted, and takes effect today. That program involves a reduced minimum size – 9 inches – for scup caught from shore at the following three locations: India Point Park (Providence), Conimicut Point Park (Warwick), and Stone Bridge (Tiverton). This new program was enacted in response to comments offered at public hearing by Representative Anastasia Williams, on behalf of the Rhode Island Black and Latino Caucus and her constituents in District 9 in Providence. The new program is aimed at providing expanded opportunities to harvest and retain scup by recreational and subsistence fishermen who may not have ready access to boats and/or shore fishing sites in the southern portion of the state.
The 9-inch minimum size only pertains to scup harvested from shore at the three locations. The 30 fish/person daily bag limit applies statewide, including the three locations.
Finally, with regard to party and charter boats, there is a new, increased daily bag limit in effect during September and October: 45 fish per person per day, up from 40 fish last year.
The liberalized regulations pertaining to scup are reflective of the health of the stock and, relative to the regional recreational harvest target, its ability to support increased recreational fishing effort.
The season for summer flounder (or fluke) opens today, and runs through the end of the calendar year. There is a new, reduced minimum size in effect: 18 inches, down from 18.5 inches last year. The daily bag limit remains the same: 8 fish per person per day. The liberalization in the minimum size for fluke stems from an under-harvest in 2012 relative to the recreational harvest target.
Black Sea Bass
The season for black sea bass opens on June 15. Given constraints imposed by the federal and interstate management programs for black sea bass, RI, along with other states, is compelled to reduce effort for this fishery. Accordingly, while the minimum size will remain at 13 inches for this year, the daily bag limit will drop to 3 fish per person per day from June 15 to August 31, and then increase to 7 fish from September 1 to December 31. Last year the daily possession limit was 15 fish per person per day from June 15 through December 31.
Recreational Fishing is an Important Economic Driver
Rhode Island's fisheries are important for a multitude of reasons: their ecological value, and the food, recreation, economic, and other social and cultural benefits they provide. According to recent estimates from the federal government, expenditures by recreational saltwater fishermen in Rhode Island total about $179 million annually. Those expenditures generate some $157 million in sales and $48 million in income, and support nearly 1,300 jobs.
A table of the regulations can be found online at: www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/mfsizes.htm.