2017-12-28 / News

Reed: State should have input on catch limits in Mid-Atlantic region

After the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted 16-4 in mid-December against a proposed squid buffer zone off the coast of Nantucket, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation commended the regional agency.

According to U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Jamestown resident, the measure would have negatively impacted anglers across the Ocean State.

To further protect the local seafood industry, Reed introduced legislation that would give his state a seat at the voting table. The Rhode Island Fishermen’s Fairness Act would add the Ocean State to the list of seven states with representation on the Mid-Atlantic council, which is a regional management board that establishes fishery management rules for stocks primarily caught in federal waters adjacent to the coast.

“Rhode Island fishermen care deeply about the health, sustainability and management of our fisheries,” he said. “This is an issue of fairness. Our fishermen deserve appropriate representation on the council.”

The council denied the buffer zone of 12 miles off the southern coast of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, which were backed by charter boat captains who claim the squid fishery is making it harder for their clients to land striped bass. However, Reed said, that would have had a severely negative economic impact on commercial fishing boats.

The catch of Rhode Island commercial fishermen represents a significant percentage of commercial landings of the Mid- Atlantic fishery that is greater than most states represented on the council. His bill would add two seats for Rhode Island representation to the 21-member council. One seat would be appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce under recommendations from Rhode Island’s governor. The second seat would be filled by a principal state official with experience in fisheries management

“Our commercial fishing industry, including our famous Ocean State calamari, is a major employer in Rhode Island and a significant driver of the local economy,” said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the bill’s co-sponsor. “As climate change drives species of fish traditionally from the Mid-Atlantic north towards Narragansett Bay, it’s only fair that the hardworking fishermen in Rhode Island have a say in the decision.”

Return to top