Friday, January 30, 2015

Tackle Shop Owners Send Powerful Conservation Message to RI DEM

Many RI Tackle shop owners, very knowledgeable and well respected members of the RI fishing community, have sent a powerful message to RI DEM regarding striper regs that have not been formalized yet for 2015.  At the center of controversy is a one fish proposal for recreational fishermen and a two fish proposal for charter boat captains. The letter is pasted below:

Dear Director Coit, Senator Sosnowski, and Mr Borden,
Collectively, the recreational fisherman in Rhode Island and the Ocean State’s tackle shop owners and their employees want to urge you not to abandon the original conservation equivalency of >31% that was linked to all of the one fish options that were presented to Rhode Islanders. As shop owners we hear the dialog within the rec community every day and we can assure you the vast majority are frustrated and disheartened to learn you are considering a 27% harvest reduction to benefit one user group. They know Conservation Equivalence is a minimum and Rhode Island is under no obligation to utilize the lower standard.
The citizens spoke emphatically and consistently in favor of a one fish and 30 inch limit with the corresponding greater the 31% mortality reduction. Quite a few more, decidedly shore bound Rhode Islanders, advocated for an even more conservative approach of one fish at 32 inches. The ASMFC Technical Committee is unable to discern the gains in reduced mortality between the 30 inch and 32 inch options desired by Rhode Islanders relative to the 28 inch limit that produces a “greater than 31% reduction”. Please recognize your constituents were forced to settle for the nebulous “greater than 31%” at the outset due to inability of ASMFC to deliver this key piece of data.
The urgency in the uniform voice of recreational anglers for the most conservative approach is fueled as well by the Technical Committee assessment that all of the options presented have roughly a 50% chance of success. It amounts to a coin flip. These are scary odds for the recreational anglers of the Ocean State and even more concerning if your business requires healthy striped bass fishery to survive.
At the ASMFC Planning Meeting the DEM strategy was “one fish and investigate conservation equivalence to get two fish for charter fleet” while not ideal this was an acceptable compromise in that it included a “greater than 31% reduction”.  As shop owners we can sympathize with the Charter Captains concern for their livelihood and the jobs they create as we have employees whose need for jobs is no less important.
If you walk in the waders of the majority of Rhode Island recreational anglers it’s hard not to see the current “2 fish with 27% reduction” proposal by the for hire fleet as anything other than the export of Rhode Island resources against the stated desire of public and to the benefit of a select few and for those who can afford to pay for the best.
We urge you to maintain the >31% harvest reduction your public demanded. If you consider a “two fish” option the recreational anglers of Rhode Island would ask that the Charter Boat Captains and Mates contribute to reducing mortality by not taking their recreational share while on a “for hire” trip. This will help mitigate the negative impacts of the continued harvest of two reproducing females by each of their paying customers.
You have a wonderful opportunity to let Rhode Island again be the state that leads with a creative solution that the serves the citizens, shares the economic impact and most importantly protects this incredible gamefish.
Thank you for your service,
Peter Jenkins – The Saltwater Edge
Mike Wade – Watch Hill Outfitters
Neal Hayes – Quaker Lane Bait and Tackle
Dave Henault – Ocean State Tackle
Greg Bruning – The Tackle Box
Captain Ron Mouchon – Breachway Bait and tackle
Captain Chris Willi – Block Island Fishworks
Mike Cardinal – Cardinal Bait and Tackle
Ray Miclette – Pete’s Bait and Tackle
Robin Nash – Quonny Bait and Tackle