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Fifty fishermen attended the Atlantic herring public hearing Tuesday night at the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus in Narragansett. Of the approximately 18 comments made by fishermen at the hearing, about 15 of them advocated for recognizing herring as a forage fish when considering catch limits. The creation of a buffer zone of 25 miles where large midwater trawlers are not allowed to fish for Atlantic herring was suggested by most.

Two Massachusetts hearings are planned, one in Gloucester on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Beauport Hotel at 55 Commercial Street; and a second hearing in Chatham on Tuesday, June 19 at 6 p.m. at the Chatham Community Center at 702 Main Street.

The New England Fishery Management Council has scheduled the public hearings on Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan. The purpose of the hearings is to solicit comments on the amendment’s two major components, which include alternatives to establish a long-term acceptable biological catch (ABC) control rule that accounts for herrings’ role in the ecosystem, and alternatives to address potential localized depletion and user conflicts.

The states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island announced Wednesday that they will be going into contract negotiations for 1200 megawatts (MW) of ocean wind farm power generation. The Block Island Wind Farm pilot project is the first ocean wind farm in the nation, with five turbines of 30 MW. So by comparison these projects are a lot larger.

Massachusetts will enter contract negotiations with Vineyard Wind to procure 800 MW of power, and Rhode Island will enter contract negotiations with Deepwater Wind to procure 400 MW of energy. Both projects will be located in areas where the firms have already been granted leases off Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

In December 2017, over 50 scientists presented their research findings about the Block Island Wind Farm (BIW) at the Southern New England Offshore Wind Energy Science Forum held at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography in Narragansett. The BIW was viewed as having no remarkable adverse effects on the environment, fish, mammals, birds or people.

However, fishermen in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have expressed concerns about where actual turbines will be placed, as they will impact fishing activity. Most fishermen have expressed support for wind farms when planned properly. Recreational anglers say they create structure, habitat, and food for sea life that attracts fish. They attract fish much the same way that oil drilling platforms have attracted fish in the Gulf of Mexico.

By collaborating regionally on efforts to lower electricity costs, increase reliability, improve fuel security, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are working to bring clean, local offshore wind to New England’s electric grid.

Freshwater fishing continues to be strong for largemouth bass, pike, trout and carp. Those fishing for trout continue to do well in ponds stocked in Rhode Island (visit www.dem.ri.gov) and Massachusetts (visit www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-fisheries-and-wildlife). AJ Coots of Red Top Bait & Tackle in Buzzards Bay said, “The largemouth bass bite is outstanding in area ponds and lakes. We weighed in two nine-pound fish so far this year.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle in Providence said, “Pike are being caught in the Blackstone River, with a good carp bite at the Turner Reservoir and at Roger Williams Park. The largemouth bass fishing is good just about everywhere.”

Cape Cod fishing: Fishing in Buzzards Bay was very strong this week. AJ Coots of Red Top Bait & Tackle in Buzzards Bay said, “Fishing in Buzzards Bay for black sea bass, scup and striped bass is outstanding, with stripers in the 25- to 35-inch range being caught. On the Cape Cod Canal, the fishing is spread out with bait and school bass. We did have one remarkable fish that was 51 inches and about 35 pounds caught last week. Fishing is expected to improve this weekend with warming water and better tides.”

Striped bass fishing gets better every day, with larger fish being caught in the Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bays and along the coastal shore. Earlier this week, fish to 35 inches were reported being caught in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. School bass continue to be on the surface in bays and estuaries, with some larger keeper-sized fish mixed in or underneath the small school bass. Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle said employee Kerry Sampson of Warwick caught a 35-inch striped bass in the East Passage earlier this week using Atlantic menhaden. Anglers are using Atlantic menhaden, chunked and live, surface and swimming lures, and umbrella rigs to catch bass. The good news is the larger striped bass arrived last week and anglers are catching them deploying many different tactics, however, the Atlantic menhaden is not available in abundance yet.

Summer flounder (fluke) fishing continues to improve. Matt Conti of Snug Harbor Marina in South Kingstown said Wednesday, “Commercially licensed customers are finding fish but they are really working for them, and are not in abundance yet.” Captain Frank Blount of Frances Fleet said, “The season finally came and we have really dialed in on the fish. After the first trip we had limits (seven fish/person/day) on almost every trip. The quality of the fish is outstanding as well. Most keepers are in the 20- to 22-inch range. The biggest fish of the week was a solid 28-inch fish. Bucktails were the star of the week with the slower drifts.” Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters in Westerly said, “The fluke fishing is great along the southern coastal shore. Earlier this week we were catching them in 60 feet of water; now customers are finding them in 45 feet of water. All the fish are spitting up small sand eels, I mean small balls of sand eels like I have never seen before.”

Tautog fishing picked up this week, with anglers catching their limit on green crabs all the way up the Providence and Seekonk Rivers. Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane said, “We weighed in a 14.26-pound tautog caught for the Fishermen’s Magazine tournament this week. So the tautog bite is pretty good.”