Sept. 29, 2011 It’s official, coastal anglers in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island can keep on fishing for porgies (scup) for the rest of the season!
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP), the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) have each announced that their respective recreational porgy fisheries will remain open through the end of 2011. The recreational porgy season had been scheduled to close on September 27; however, the three adjoining states have rescinded the closure due to the health and abundance of the coast-wide scup population.
For anglers fishing from shore or on private vessels, the minimum size (10-1/2 inches) and bag limit (10 fish) remain unchanged during the extended season. For passengers fishing from a party or charter vessel, the current 40-fish bag limit remains in place only through October 11; thereafter, the bag limit returns to 10 fish. The 11-inch minimum size for those anglers fishing aboard party or charter vessels remains unchanged through the rest of the year.
“A combination of healthy fish stocks and harvest levels far below existing quotas have made it possible for Connecticut to take this action,” said David G. Simpson, Director of Marine Fisheries for CTDEEP. “This opportunity will benefit anglers and tackle shops alike. It is a direct result of coast-wide conservation measures enacted over the last decade that have successfully restored scup populations.”
In their official release, NYDEC said they were officially “extending the season based on data that show that the scup stock is rebuilt to very high abundance, and that commercial and recreational harvest on the coast is projected to fall nearly 10 million pounds short of this year’s allowable harvest of these popular food and sport fish. Also, increased access to the robust stocks of scup could redirect fishing effort and reduce the ecological risks faced by the local tautog population which has been declared overfished.”
RIDEM Director Janet Coit determined that it was necessary to adopt regulatory amendments via emergency rule making in order to extend the recreational season for scup until December 31 “to increase access to the overstocked scup population and thereby afford relief and reduce the ecological peril faced by the tautog population which has been declared to be “overfished”.”
The state of Massachusetts is still pursuing similar measure which would keep the porgy fishery open for anglers for the remainder of 2011 there too.
“The Recreational Fishing Alliance applauds officials in those Atlantic States for using the economic emergency occurring along our coastline in taking this bold position,” said executive director Jim Donofrio. “If the fisheries service can use emergency rulemaking authority to close down fisheries when they think the science supports it, our coastal states should be given authority to take similar action to reopen fisheries when the science warrants. In the case of scup, clearly the science supports giving our anglers increased opportunity.”
“The fact that states have to go through such drastic political maneuvering just to allow their anglers to catch a few fish from a healthy stock shows that our federal fisheries law, the Magnuson Stevens Act, needs to be fixed,” Donofrio added.
Saltwater anglers are reminded that recreational porgy fishing in federal waters did officially close on September 27; federal waters occupy portions of Block Island Sound, all of the Atlantic Ocean beyond three miles from shore, but not Long Island Sound.
CTDEEP – www.ct.gov/deep
NYDEC – www.dec.ny.gov/
RIDEM – www.dem.ri.gov