MSK1962

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  1. CLOSED TO COMM- UPDATE

    Cape Cod Canal Closed to Commercial Striped Bass Fishing

    The Division of Marine Fisheries today announced the closure of the Cape Cod Canal to commercial striped bass fishing. Effective immediately, all striped bass retained from the Cape Cod Canal or possessed within 1,000 feet of the Canal’s shoreline must adhere to the recreational fishing limits of one fish of at least 28” total length but less than 35” total length. An exception is made for the possession of striped bass 35” or greater legally caught elsewhere for commercial purposes and being actively transported through the 1,000-foot buffer area to a primary dealer.

    This action is taken to address numerous and worsening public nuisance and safety problems arising from increased fishing activity along the Canal. These problems, including anglers conducting themselves in threatening and unruly manners, parking illegally on adjacent roads, trespassing over private property, and interfering with other recreational activities, have been especially acute on open commercial striped bass fishing days. Although the primary mission of the Canal is navigation, a secondary objective of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ management of the surrounding area is to provide recreational opportunities for the public. Accordingly, it is appropriate for the Division of Marine Fisheries to prohibit commercial striped bass fishing along the Canal in order to return the area to its recreational purposes.

    This regulation is also expected to greatly enhance compliance and enforcement with this year’s recreational striped bass conservation rules (i.e., the 28” to less than 35” slot limit, circle hook requirement when fishing with natural bait, and prohibition on gaffs and other injurious removal devices) at one of the most productive fishing locations for large bass. Given the Canal’s great popularity as a shore fishing location for striped bass, the Massachusetts Environmental Police and local police departments rely heavily on public tips of illegal fishing activity; however, these tips have previously been hindered by the virtual indistinguishability of recreational and commercial striped bass fishermen. The closure of the Canal to commercial striped bass fishing (in combination with the new 35” commercial minimum size) will enhance the ability of anglers to see and accurately report illegal striped bass fishing activity. Please report tips to the Massachusetts Environmental Police at 800-632-8075.

    For the purpose of this closure, the Cape Cod Canal is defined as all waters and shoreline bounded by the most seaward extent of the state pier at Taylor’s Point (“A”) to the most seaward extent of the northern breakwater jetty at the east end (“B”) to the most seaward extent of the southern breakwater jetty at the east end (“C”) to the northernmost tip of the peninsula at the end of President’s Road in Bourne (“D”). Please see the map below.

    This closure of the Cape Cod Canal to commercial striped bass fishing has been adopted as an emergency regulation, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 30A, §2, for the preservation of public safety and the general welfare of the community. As such, it shall remain in effect for 90 days, unless adopted as a final regulation. It is anticipated that a public hearing will be scheduled for this summer and a final regulation could be voted on by the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission at its business meeting on August 20, 2020.


  2. Willows Pier Update

    From The SalemNews:

     

    Pier repairs depend on winter season

    Officials have yet to make any decisions on whether to again repair the Willows pier after it was damaged yet again by storms.

    "We need to wait a little bit before we decide," McHugh said. "The last time the pier was damaged, it was late winter. We came up with a game plan and got a number that was reasonable, only to have another storm come in a few weeks later and do more damage."

    "I don't know that this pier is repairable," McHugh said.

    Teams are waiting until more inclement weather hits from now to the spring before they commit to doing any repairs, according to McHugh.

    At the same time, state departments have committed cash from tackle and fishing license taxes to giving the pier an all-out replacement at some point in the next couple years, according to McHugh.

    "This new pier is going to need to be higher, and that's a tricky thing. I'm assuming it's going to be about 4 feet higher than this one," he said. "You have to be careful about making a fishing pier too high, because then it isn't effective for this purpose."


  3. From The Salem News:

     

    "The storm also left a trail of damage at Salem Willows, where the park's famed pier was ravaged again. Previous storm damage at the pier had just been repaired last year in a $65,000 project.

    "The high tide was just about 2 in the morning, and it wasn't a predominantly high tide," McHugh said, "but with the way the sea came rolling in, there was a surge."

    On Thursday, several boards in the pier appeared popped up and damaged by the storm.

     

    But McHugh said the city in the state's construction pipeline for a new pier. Timelines aren't solid yet, but McHugh said the pier replacement could start next year.

    "As far as repairing this one, I don't want to make a determination at this point," McHugh said. "The pier construction — for a new pier — will take some time. It's a pretty good-sized structure, so there's some permitting that has to happen. Things have begun with the state and the city."

     

     

    We'll see.


  4. Here's the original article from Martha's VIneyard times  3/8

     

    An ebb in the striped bass population stands to trigger a modest cut in commercial striper allowances and a possible increase in the size limits.

    “The prognosis is not grim,” Michael Armstrong, assistant director of Marine Fisheries, said of striper stock vitality. However, in order to keep the population healthy and regenerative, he said the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is likely to reduce the commercial quota of the fish by approximately 15 percent. Armstrong is chairman of the ASMFC Atlantic Striper Bass Board. He stressed that percentile is speculative, and subject to an agreement of the 15 member states of the commission.

    “The current dip in population is related to environmental conditions in the Chesapeake Bay from 2005 to 2010,” he said. More specifically, he said, the dip was related to “river flow conditions in the spring,” and stressed natural cycles and fluctuations were at play.

    In the commonwealth, the present commercial size minimum is 34 inches. He does not anticipate this will change. However, he deemed it possible the 28-inch minimum for recreational stripers might be raised by an inch. Also, he said, it’s possible a size cap of 40 inches might be considered. He emphasized nothing is set in stone.

    Armstrong said the state is poised to require the use of circle hooks for all striper bait fishing.

    Circle hooks “reduce the incident of gut-hooking by 90 percent,” he said. Gut-hooking or deep-hooking occurs when a fish ingests a hook or gets it caught in its gills. The removal of such a hook for catch and release causes injury to the fish.

    Armstrong wrote at length on circle hooks and the data that supports their utility in the final Division of Marine Fisheries newsletter of 2018.

    “Massachusetts recreational anglers released almost 13 million striped bass in 2017,” he wrote. “If we apply the release mortality rate of 9 percent, that means over 1 million striped bass died after being released. That’s compared to only 300,000 that were taken home and eaten!”

    While circle hooks aren’t used on lures and plugs, Armstrong said anglers can reduce the damage these cause to stripers by smashing or grinding down the barbs on the lure hooks, and only employing a single treble hook on a lure.

    Armstrong said the ban on gaffing stripers would be the first ever for a fish under Massachusetts regulation. He said it’s conceivable it may only apply to recreational anglers because commercial fishermen may need to employ gaffs because of the conditions they work in.

    Donald Scarpone, president of the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association, said he supports circle hooks and a moratorium on gaffing stripers.

    Scarpone also said he is in favor of stricter size limits for stripers.