Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
The state reopened coastal ponds to shellfishing on Saturday, following a closure due to heavy rains which ended early last week. The state Division of Marine Fisheries had issued the closure to more than 30 Massachusetts towns on Sept. 29, based on the expectation that water quality in coastal ponds would diminish after three days of heavy rains.
Shellfish managers were typically concerned that road runoff would fill the ponds with excessive bacteria.
A moratorium on the taking of river herring, instituted three years ago because of dwindling stocks, appears set to be extended for another three years.
A decision will not be announced until next Friday, but a public hearing attended by Vineyard fishermen last week made it clear the fishery was still far from recovered.
Paul Diodati, the director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, said there had been some improvement in stocks, but populations were still low.
The state Division of Marine Fisheries yesterday expanded closed shellfish areas to include the eastern side of Nantucket Sound due to red tide. The closure does not affect fish or shellfish harvested and landed in Vineyard waters.
The agency sent out the notification for the benefit of shellfishermen and fish markets that sell shellfish wholesale and retail. Affected shellfish include surf clams, ocean quahaugs, mussels, carnivorous snails and whole sea scallops. Those scallops are exempt if only the adductor muscle is landed.
Recreational saltwater fishermen in Massachusetts likely will be required to have a fishing license beginning next year.
That word came from Paul Diodati, the director of the state Division of Marine Fisheries, who came to the Island last week and spoke at the Chilmark Public Library.
Mr. Diodati was joined by John Pappalardo, chairman of the New England Fishery Management Council. The council oversees many fish stocks that swim in federal waters south and east of the Vineyard.
Striped bass, one of the most prized fish swimming in Vineyard waters, the focus of fishing tournaments and the dish on many dinner tables, is in decline here, that much is agreed. But what to do about it? That is not, and the divided opinions are lining up around new restrictions proposed to protect the fish.
Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent to Paul Diodati, director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. The letter was also signed by Chuck Hodgkinson, Emmett Carroll, Jennifer Clark, Jonathan Mayhew, Virginia Jones and Tom Osmers.
Regarding the request for consideration of a tending requirement on bottom tending or sink gill nets in Massachusetts state waters: All nets must come in with the boat and not be left at sea when the boat is at port.
Local fishermen landed more than 100,000 pounds of fluke this summer at Menemsha. The landings by 10 small draggers and about five handline fishermen represents one-seventh of all the landings made in the state. The state quota for fluke was 702,614 pounds.
The report on local landings came out of a state fisheries public hearing held in Tisbury on Monday afternoon.
A top state fisheries official told a Vineyard gathering on Friday afternoon that it is not feasible to restore the 61-year-old state lobster hatchery — at least not for raising young lobsters for release.
“We have no evidence that we did enhance the wild population to any significant degree at all,” said Paul Diodati, director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. “That and the cost in the past 10 years of government has become a real concern. Funding has withered,” he added.
Fishing Permit Extension
The Division of Marine Fisheries has extended 2011 commercial fishing and dealer permits through January 31, 2012. New permits will be required on February 1. Permit holders must submit all outstanding 2011 monthly trip-level reports in order to receive a new permit. Going forward, permit holders who do not comply with 2012 reporting requirements may be unable to renew their licenses or may be subject to fines.
Striped bass were scarce at this year's derby, following a trend in recent years, but Vineyard fishermen may have reason for optimism after two major stock assessments have shown a record or near-record number of spawning fish in the Chesapeake Bay.