Portal shows warming water pushing fish north

As the ocean warms, some fish species adapt by moving into cooler and deeper water so they remain in their preferred water temperatures. Those marine species that cannot move either adapt or perish.

On April 19, 2022 NOAA Fisheries released a new tool that can show the movement of hundreds of species due in part to climate change and warming water.

The tool, developed by NOAA climatologist Melissa Karp is called the Distribution Mapping and Analysis Portal, or DisMAP. The portal can help fish managers, researchers and fishers understand and respond to changes in marine species’ distributions.

In an advisory announcing the Portal NOAA said, “Changes in marine ecosystems can have big implications for the sustainability of US fishing… And, when species move outside of standard survey boundaries, it can impact estimates of abundance that feed into stock assessments.”

Karp’s portal uses NOAA Fisheries bottom trawl survey data. Stakeholders can use the portal’s map-based visualizations to explore changes over time in the distributions of more than 800 species.

Remarkable shifts include American lobster, their distribution moved 122 miles north between 1974 and 2019. Back sea bass moved about 143 miles north, and expanded its range by about 39 miles, whereas summer flounder moved north by about 48 miles but acutely contacted its range by about 73 miles.

These changes in distribution and range have wreaked havoc with recreational harvest limits and regulations. For example a greater abundance of a species in our area like black sea bass means we will likely catch more. We catch too many and we may overfish, and when we overfish, fishing regulations become more conservative to prevent overfishing. Yet we have a great abundance of black sea bass in our waters.

We need to adapt our fishing laws to be more climate nimble to respond to climate impacts like fish distribution. We need enhanced climate research and more frequent stock assessments to figure out just what is happening to specie distribution and range changes so we can incorporate into more frequent stock assessments.

To link to the portal visit Distribution Mapping and Analysis Portal (noaa.gov).

License funds bolster recreational fishing

Last week the RI Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) approved the RI Saltwater Recreational Fishing License Program annual report. The report provides an overview of the license program including the number of licenses purchased and raised funds, how funds were spent in 2021 and the plans and initiatives planned for 2022.

A total of 53,869 license was issued in 2021, the second highest total ever in the program’s eleven year history, and gross revenue for 2021 was $353,685.

John Lake, DEM Supervising Marine Biologist responsible for the program, said, “Rhode Islanders continue to use saltwater fishing as a wholesome outdoor activity during COVID. We believe COVID has increased the number of licensed purchased in 2021 just as it did in 2020.”

Funds in 2022 will be spent on enhanced recreational fishing data collection to improve overall accuracy of catch estimates as well as the construction of a Westerly Main Street boat ramp. Funds are also allocated to maintain existing ramps and public fishing areas, continue DEM recreational fishing staff support, fish stock assessment support on important fishing, and a RI managed fishing access survey programme. Public education, information and outreach programs are being supported in 2022 including the publication of the RI Saltwater Fishing Magazine and its minimum size and catch limit regulation insert.

Visit www.dem.ri.gov for a complete copy of the annual report.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater trout fishing continues to be great at area ponds that have been stocked. Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box, Warwick, said, “The trout stocking was exceptional this year, particularly the golden tout, which have been very large this year. The largemouth bass bite has been very not too.” “Willet Avenue Pond, Riverside and Carbuncle Pond, Coventry have been producing trout for customers. But just about any pond stocked is producing,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside. For licensing and stocking information in Rhode Island visit www.dem.ri.gov/programs/fish-wildlife/freshwater-fisheries/index.php. For information on regulations, licenses and an interactive map on Massachusetts stocked waterways visit Freshwater fishing regulations | Mass.gov.

Tatog fishing improved this week with anglers catching keepers throughout the Bay and along the coastal shore. “Today (Monday) tautog fishing exploded at India Point”. Anglers fishing with light jigs (1/2 once) were on fire.” said Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence. “We weighed in a ten pound fish that was caught in Narragansett. And the bite in Providence at India Point is good with fish being caught throughout the Bay.” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box. Kayak angler Tom Houde said, “I did pretty good Sunday fishing for tautog on my kayak in the West bay. Landed three nice keepers but had to weed though a dozen shorts to get them.” John Littlefield form Archie’s said, “Keeper tautog are being caught at Kettle Pont, India point Park and at Colt State Park in the rocky shore area.”

Striped bass. Striped bass fishing is improving daily with fish in the 20” to 25” range being caught along the coast and throughout the Bay with occasional keepers mixed in at Sabin Pont and Kettle Point. “One customer caught some nice fish off the Barrington Bridge at night with an incoming tide using worms,” said Littlefield. Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box said, “Customers are catching school bass at Conimicut Point using sea worms.” “The East Bay has been the ticket for striped bass fishing wit fish being caught from Poppasquash Point, Bristol all the way up to Providence. Fish to 38” and 23 pounds caught this week in the Providence River. Aglers are using soft plastics with success working them thought out the water column depending on where the fish are.” Said Hanault of Ocean State. East End Eddie Doherty said, “The herring run has been overflowing with fish that will produce forage for returning predators. Some school bass were caught off the beach at Mashnee Flats (Buzzards Bay) near Hog Island Channel and some undersized stripers have been entering the west end of the Cape Cod Canal on the east tide.”

The striped bass regulation is the same as last year, one fish per angler per day from 28” to less than 35”.

Scope. “Anglers are catching 15-inch scup off the fishing pier at Rocky Point State Park.” said Giddings of the Tackle Box.

Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to [email protected] or visit www.noflukefishing.com .

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