Senin, 08 Maret 2021

Connecticut fishermen welcome news of increased black sea bass quota - theday.com

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Stonington — Warming ocean temperatures have led certain species of fish, such as black sea bass usually found in the mid-Atlantic region, to move north into New England waters, where historically they have not been found or only found in small quantities.

But federal quotas governing how much of these fish commercial fisherman can land have generally lagged behind these environmental changes.

“Any of these folks who work out here on Long Island Sound can tell you that things have changed quite a bit over the last 20 years. We’ve got fish species that live here now that never really used to,” said Justin Davis, assistant director of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Marine Fisheries Program.

“Unfortunately, the quota allocations for those species have not moved with the fish,” Davis said Monday standing at the Town Dock, where he and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, announced new federal sea bass quotas for Connecticut fishermen.

The federal government long ago set up regional management councils to determine commercial fishing quotas, which have not changed much over the years. The quota for black sea bass had not been changed in 18 years, for example.

“The legacy quotas that were in place really were not giving the folks in this part of the country a fair opportunity to fish for black sea bass,” Courtney said.

Connecticut’s congressional delegation wrote to the heads of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission in late January to push for an update to the state’s allocation. Their efforts were seemingly successful.

Connecticut’s portion of the coastwide Black Sea Bass quota, which will go into effect in 2022, will increase more than threefold from 1% to 3.7%.

While the increase might seem small, “it’s very significant to our fisherman,” said Joe Gilbert, who has a fleet of four commercial boats based at the Stonington Town Dock. Commercial fishermen Dan Malone was also in attendance Monday.

“The problem with the old quota was that the daily catch rate for a fisherman at times was so low that it was barely worth going after it,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert said the new allocation will extend the fishing season and increase the daily catch rates “by enough to keep the fishermen at sea and making a decent living for their efforts.”

There was also a recent update to Connecticut's summer flounder allocation, which went into effect this year. In 2020, the state's allocation was about 260,000 pounds. This year, it's 580,000 pounds.

"My message to the fishing industry here is these are steps in the right direction," Davis said.  "There's plenty more to do on this issue but we’ve at least got some good movement."

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March 09, 2021 at 07:31AM
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Connecticut fishermen welcome news of increased black sea bass quota - theday.com

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