Commercial fishing gear that is dragged along the seafloor to capture species that live on, in or near the ocean bottom has long been criticized for damaging sensitive habitats and catching innumerable non-target species.
Access to prime Ocean State shellfishing areas has been expanded under the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s annual shellfish harvesting reclassification.
GALILEE, R.I. — Three groundfish vessels from Point Judith are now equipped with digital cameras, rather than human observers, to document discards of groundfish on commercial fishing trips.
WESTERLY and CHARLESTOWN, R.I. — The Nature Conservancy and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management are building nine small-scale, experimental reefs in Quonochontaug Pond.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Department of Health have closed areas of Rhode Island Sound, lower Narragansett Bay south of the Newport Pell and Jamestown Verrazzano bridges, and lower Sakonnet River to shellfish harvesting.
Starting in October, the federal government began a pilot project to test electronic monitoring on midwater herring trawlers fishing in “groundfish closed” areas off the coast of New England, two of which are in the rich spawning grounds on the continental shelf known as Georges Bank. The yearlong project will help regulators decide whether cameras can replace people as observers.
A shellfish harvesting closure went into effect Oct. 21 for lower Narragansett Bay and a portion of Rhode Island Sound, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. A closure is also in effect for lower Sakonnet River.
CHATHAM, Mass. — Cape Cod fishermen may be on their way to some relief from sharing inshore fishing grounds with mid-water herring trawling, a practice they say is threatening their livelihoods. But a persistent lack of data on the impact of the trawls may hamper efforts to regulate them.
PROVIDENCE — The city's waterfront supported millions of oysters at the turn of the 20th century, with 5,000 acres of leased oyster beds in the Providence River and upper bay in 1905. In the decades that followed, pollution, bacteria and sedimentation caused a sharp decline in the oyster population. The Hurricane of 1938 put an end to the already-declining local oyster industry, and shellfishing was later banned in the upper bay because of polluted sediment and bacteria in the water.
BOURNE, Mass. — Buzzards Bay recreational fishermen may soon have access to improved scallop, oyster and quahog populations in town waters for recreational harvests, thanks to settlement funding being used by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and The Nature Conservancy to restore natural resources injured by a 2003 oil spill near the bay’s entrance.
HARWICH, Mass. — June 1 marks the beginning of a new era for fisheries monitoring in New England. This year, for the first time, up to 20 participating fishermen from Massachusetts and Maine will use digital cameras rather than human monitors to document discards of groundfish, such as cod, haddock and flounder, on commercial fishing trips.