Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Pitbulls (poi dogs) have this thing about banana plant leaves ... I see their point.
Nothing dangerous 'bout this daily commute ...
"You lookin' at me! I don't see anybody else here. You lookin' at ..."
While over on the mainland, Sean, after foregoing summer school, thought this up ...
Now that's a stud!!!!
Monday, July 30, 2018: Well, we had yet another rain-bred flood situation on Saturday. In the rain gauge, it was an inch short of the huge downpour worth of flooding we had a week prior. That earlier deluge from tropical-borne moisture inching up the coast, loosed almost 4 inches of rain in nothing flat. The recent cloudburst went a bit under 3 inches. Still, the inundated roadways had Island-departing hordes moaning and groaning – and screaming for the kids to quit fighting!
It should be demographically recognized that LBI has never had so many day-hoppers. I can base that solely on the demonstrable mega increase in nearby mainland populations, filling new and expanding housing developments. More folks have taken to the daily drive on/drive off circuit. When things go south on the Causeway, it backs up badly … in both directions.
Back to that rain, it had a somewhat noteworthy meteorological angle to it, at least for those of a weather-noting ilk. If, like me, you were beaching it early in the day, you reveled in the way the sun was majorly a-shine. Hardly noticed but of utmost import, ENE were blowing in at 15 mph. That onshore flow of moist air was what led to the eventual buildup of portentous cloudage in the west.
By 2-ish, those angry-looking clouds were literally the manifestation of moisture being blown off the ocean and onto the mainland -- where they ran into an impenetrable blockage, sky-wise. Not that far west, fairly strong west winds had settled in, as nearby as Route 539. The two winds collided, the meatier westerlies rapidly up-drafting the onshore winds into thoroughly saturated rain clouds. As the westerlies slowly won the push-of-war, they powered every drip of the ocean-based moisture back upon us. It was such a local event that ten miles north or south, all they got from it was a look at amazing towering clouds over LBI. It was three inches worth of moisture payback. Come on, that’s kinda interesting.
ODD CUASEWAY FLOODING: I’m getting somewhat disturbing reports of flooding on the Causeway – in places where this essential roadway -- and life/death evacuation route -- didn’t used to flood. Way too early to jump to any conclusions.
While I haven’t seen said flooding firsthand, the folks contacting me about it know this area beyond very well. Again, they were duly annoyed by the profuse amounts of standing water gathering on the Bonnets -- and even over on inland Rte. 72; no fun after having just dealt with the Island’s famed flood zones.
I’m compelled to scientifically wonder if there might be an enhanced road-flooding potential now that two bridges – wide bridges at that – will be directing torrential rainwater runoff east and west, onto adjacent low-lying areas. Keep in mind, I’m not talking tidal flooding, which is whole other animal.
I know full-well that appropriate drainage has been worked into the new Causeway’s design. Still, spans with the steep cant of the new Causeway bridges simply can’t handle heavy runoff, even with well-thought-out drains in play. Overflow will surely happen, possibly leading to ponding/flooding somewhere nearby. Where remains to be … and measured.
RUSH TO CAST: On the fish front, we have finally gotten calm enough winds and seas to reestablish where the fluke are hanging, along with the whereabouts of cartilaginous fish, both sharks and rays. Bothersomely, we will soon fall into another unstable weather pattern, potentially leading to a return of protracted south winds, though likely marked by periods of calmer air.
The cow-nosed stingray count remains very high. These winged ones will be more noticeable with clean and settled seas. In fact, today’s onshore breezes are pushing in mild water, a favorite of rays – and the gray suits.
I’ll once again suggest that rays are a targetable species for surfcasters, especially those anglers out for fun more than meat. That said, there are a growing number of recipes on how to prepare cow-nosed rays into something somewhat edible. Down south, many such recipe suggest using whiskey … before, during and after a meal of stingray meat. Take that as you may.
On a distantly-related historic gastronomical note, as recently at the 1950s, fresh tuna regularly and readily caught off our shores was considered pretty much unpalatable. It was caught for sport and photos, then discarded as so much trash. Juxtapose those dumb-ass days with the 2013 purchase of a 488-pound blue fin tuna by businessman Kiyoshi Kimura, who paid $1.76 million for it. Unfortunately, the chances of cow-nosed ray sushi someday going for $1,000 a quarter-ounce are sorta slim.
REPLEN CORRECTION: I had written that the Surf City beach replenishment project was reaching the end, finishing up at the north part of town. What I failed to properly convey was the unsmall fact that the Surf City beach fix now shifts to the south end of town -- for what should be a fairly fast fix, per the workers I chatted with. Harvey Cedars, also receiving a sand job, still has a long time/way to go, though the Weeks Company will soon be throwing all its effort into that final phase of the project.
Speaking of sand pounding, I got a call about Holgate’s ongoing erosional edginess, beachside. It looks bad due mainly to the eating away of the placed sand, more than the overall egregious loss of beachline. There’s a subtle difference, led by the fact there remains a goodly load of sand between the ocean and the nearest homes.
Of high import, the eaten-away look down that way will surely work in LBT’s favor, as it ratchets up efforts to get a terminal groin built at Wooden Jetty. “Look how bad it looks, Trenton!”
Below: Wooden Jetty in-between replen and return.
I can pretty much assure that some semi-definitive news about that possible big-ass groin will be issued this fall. I have reliable info that there’s already an exact-to-the-stone blueprint of the terminal groin. The plan is simply waiting to be plugged in – as in funded.
As to hyping or panning the project, that should be left solely in the hands of the township and the Holgate taxpayers. Despite my lifelong intimate attachment to Holgate – sultry stories I would love to someday tell – I’m a Ship Bottomer of the highest 50-year order. That said, I will relay – and likely support -- what the main groin players decide upon.
Going 18 to 20.5 miles north – depending on how you measure the Island – I’m still trying to get any further details on plans to create a freshwater wetland just east and a bit south of Barney, in BL State Park.
While such a freshwater plan might at first sound undoable in a decidedly marine environment, I distinctly recall a freakish freshwater area right where the possibly proposed wetlands might be created. There are also historical references to fresh water occasionally surfacing thereabouts, mainly in spring.
Does anyone recall the bizarre quasi apocalyptic plague of tiny American toads that burst forth there not all that long ago? Thousands of them. I have to believe those amphibians developed from tadpoles metamorphizing within a protracted freshwater presence.
Along those same toady lines, LBI used have tons of toads, both Fowler and American. Then came the gravel yards. They were the bye-bye American toad pie. Oddly sad. In fact, I think I’ll manually reintroduce indigenous toads over at the new Cedar Bonnet Island Nature Trail. I know places on the mainland crawling with Fowlers. I can collect them by the gross-load.
Below: Growingly rare American toad. It looks a lot like a Fowler but the softer song in spring is a dead giveaway. Listen here: ... https://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/ensp/audio/american_toad.wav
Above: Hugely common Fowler toad. You can't mistake its call ... Listen if you dare: https://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/ensp/audio/fowlers_toad.wav
That leads me to another little-known freshwater area, located within the Nature Trail zone. There has long been a large stretch of what must be artesian aquifer-fed freshwater wetlands, just south of Rte. 72. We used to ice skate on it because it froze fast and smooth, with none of the pits and air holes that frozen saltwater takes on. Amphibians of many a type could persevere there, fully protected. I’m doin’ it! Just don’t tell the Forsythe folks.
Wow, that train of thought even has me coming up for air, so I’ll wait until next week to offer a read on the Forsythe Nature Trail on Cedar Bonnet (or is it just Bonnet?) island.
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Associated Press] by Patrick Whittle - July 30, 2018
Fishermen and environmentalists are at odds over a suite of changes to American fishing laws that was approved by the House of Representatives, and the proposal faces a new hurdle in the Senate.
The House passed changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a 42-year-old set of rules designed to protect American fisheries from overharvest, on July 11, largely along party lines. Environmental groups have derided the changes as antithetical to the purpose of the act, which many fishermen and conservationists credit with saving American seafood stocks such as New England sea scallops and Bering Sea snow crab.
Supporters of the House bill and several commercial and recreational fishing groups have said the changes merely provide managers with flexibility and refocus the Magnuson-Stevens Act on sound science.
The big question is whether a bill will also pass the Senate before midterm elections. No bill has been proposed yet, and elections could bring changes that make it more difficult for such a bill to pass.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican and the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, is pursuing a Senate version of the bill, but no timeline is in place yet, a spokesman said.
"There's healthy agreement across Capitol Hill that reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Acts is long overdue," said the spokesman, Matt Shuckerow. Sullivan has already held numerous hearings on the subject, he said.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act guides the U.S. fishing industry, which generated more than $200 billion in sales in 2015. It touches every fishery from Washington state's salmon to Maine's lobster.
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced this year that the number of American fish stocks that can be described as overfished has hit an all-time low under the stewardship of the act, which last underwent major changes in 2006.
Republican Rep. Don Young, of Alaska, guided new changes to passage in the House this month. The House Committee on Natural Resources, led by bill supporter and Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, released a statement that the bill gets rid of "unscientific timeframes" that "unnecessarily restrict access to fisheries."
One of the most controversial portions of the bill would take away a requirement for annual catch limits for some fish species. It would also change rules about requirements to rebuild overfished stocks.
The bill is also designed to give fishery regulators more alternatives in how they manage fish stocks. It doesn't authorize any new federal spending, and supporters say it would save about $100 million over a similar bill that passed the House in 2015.
Supporters have also said the bill modernizes the management of recreational fishing, an industry that employs thousands.
"Anglers are leading conservationists," said Mike Leonard, conservation director for the American Sportfishing Association, which supports the changes.
But environmental groups have painted a dire picture and described the reauthorization as a rollback of a landmark conservation law. Ted Morton, director of federal ocean policy for The Pew Charitable Trusts, said he is already looking to the Senate to prevent the bill's passage.
"This bill increases the risk of overfishing in ocean waters, delays the rebuilding of depleted fish populations, and undercuts the important role science plays in management decisions," he said. "We hope the Senate will take a different tack with legislation that reflects our country's commitment to healthy fish populations and coastal communities."
The bill passed by a count of 222-193 in the House of Representatives. Only nine Democrats voted in favor of passage. Republicans have a much slimmer edge in the Senate, where they control 51 seats, and 35 Senate seats are the subject of elections this fall.
Couple of "Door Mats" today, Everything goes in the box on my boat. "Butterfly Rays"
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Providence Journal] By Alex Kuffner - July 30, 2018
At issue is minimizing impacts to fishing grounds for squid, lobster and other species that are critical to Rhode Island fishermen.
NARRAGANSETT — Nearly four months into a review of its proposal by Rhode Island coastal regulators, Vineyard Wind has been unable to allay fears that its proposed offshore wind farm of up to 100 turbines would harm the state’s fishing industry.
With a key approval from the Coastal Resources Management Council at stake, the New Bedford-based company has agreed to a two-month extension in an attempt to bridge the divide with agency staff and Rhode Islandcover the $2-billion project that would be built in 250 square miles of ocean south of Martha’s Vineyard.
At a recent meeting with the company and fishermen, Coastal Resources Management Council executive director Grover Fugate announced the stay, which pushes back a decision by the agency until Dec. 6.
The delay comes after Fugate sent a letter to Vineyard Wind signaling that the agency is unlikely to award a “consistency certification” to the 800-megawatt wind farm as it’s currently configured. Fugate recommended an alternate layout of the turbines to minimize impacts to fishing grounds for squid, lobster and other species that are critical to Rhode Island fishermen.
During the meeting last Thursday of the Fishermen’s Advisory Board, which advises the council on fishing issues related to offshore wind, Rhode Island fishermen complained that Vineyard Wind never took their needs into account when designing the wind farm. Over three hours of back and forth that at points grew heated, they repeatedly said that the orientation of the wind farm and the spacing of the turbines would make it nearly impossible for them to fish within its boundaries.
“You’re talking about gutting an entire industry, the Rhode Island industry,” said Lanny Dellinger, a lobsterman who heads the board. “If you do this, we’re all out of business.”
After the meeting, Fugate was asked if the council could approve the current design of the project.
“After what we heard tonight, I don’t think so,” he said.
The questions surrounding Vineyard Wind are reflective of a larger debate about the East Coast’s nascent offshore wind industry and its potential impact on generations-old fishing communities.
Southern New England, home to the historic fishing ports of New Bedford and Point Judith, is ground zero for the issue. The first offshore wind farm in the nation, a 30-megawatt test project completed by Providence-based Deepwater Wind in 2016, is located off Block Island. Another 2,290 megawatts has been proposed so far in a corridor stretching southeast from Rhode Island Sound toward Nantucket.
Reaching that amount of capacity — the total of projects put forward by Vineyard Wind, Deepwater Wind and Bay State Wind, of New Bedford — could mean the installation of more than 200 huge wind turbines in the region’s waters.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, who has led a push for more offshore wind power as part of a larger renewable energy initiative, met on July 17 with Point Judith fishermen to hear their concerns about losing access to fishing grounds. She addressed the industry at a recent environmental forum in Providence.
“We are going to keep you at the table the whole way through to make sure that your industry thrives and can coexist while we keep the pedal to the metal moving towards offshore wind,” she said at the environmental conference hosted by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. “You have my commitment on that. We can achieve both goals and we will achieve both goals.”
A representative of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources was at the Fishermen’s Advisory Board meeting on Thursday and said that the governor’s office and the Rhode Island Congressional delegation were watching closely and want to be involved in future talks involving Vineyard Wind.
Much of the debate surrounding Vineyard Wind comes down to differing views on the importance of the project area for fishing, in particular for squid, the top species by value and pounds landed in Rhode Island in recent years.
While the Coastal Resources Management Council and Rhode Island fishermen say it’s an area of high fishing activity, Vineyard Wind counters that the squid caught there accounts for less than 2 percent of the value of the fishery.
The company says the project was configured in response to comments from many different groups, including the New Bedford-based scallop fishery, which at an average annual value of $281 million is 10 times larger than the Rhode Island squid fishery.
But in terms of the project area specifically, it is at least as valuable for Rhode Island boats that catch squid, butterfish and other species as it is for the Massachusetts scallop fleet: $1.7 million in landings from 2011 to 2016 for the former versus $1.5 million for the latter over the same period, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
Moreover, scallop landings in the area were going down in those years while squid and other landings were going up.
Coastal Resources Management Council staff and fishermen also say that the DEM analysis underestimates the importance of the area to Rhode Island fishermen because the federal data it was based upon does not include figures for lobstermen, who are not required to report vessel trips, or those for fishermen who catch Jonah crab, a fishery that has grown in recent years but is still unregulated.
At the advisory board meeting, the Rhode Island fishermen said that scallop boats largely transit through the project area to reach grounds that are farther offshore. Rhode Island boats are the ones that actually fish in the area, they said, presenting Vineyard Wind with 18,000 vessel tracks going back to the 1990s to prove it.
“That’s where we live,” said Donald Fox, manager of the Town Dock fishing fleet.
Their concerns about the configuration of the wind farm are critical because of a gentleman’s agreement worked out about two decades ago between fishermen who trawl for squid and other fish using nets towed behind their boats and those who fix gear to the ocean floor like lobster traps or gill nets. Fixed gear is laid out in rows from east to west and spaced about one nautical mile (1.15 miles) apart, creating wide and predictable lanes for mobile gear boats to fish between.
The wind farm, however, was laid out in rows that run from northwest to southeast. Spacing varies from one nautical mile to three-quarters of a nautical mile. Under that design, trawlers would not only snag their nets on traps and other fixed gear but would also run the risk of colliding with a turbine, the fishermen said.
The Coastal Resources Management Council and the East Farm Commercial Fisheries Center, a group that represents Rhode Island fishermen, drew up an alternative layout that they say would allow boats to fish within the confines of the wind farm more easily by orienting the turbines from east to west. The alternative also includes three wide corridors for fishing boats to transit through the wind farm. And it spaces the wind turbines at least one nautical mile apart.
Vineyard Wind has questioned the underlying data that the agency and the fishing group used in support of their contention that the lease area is heavily fished. The company has also said that elements of the alternative layout are confusing. It has so far only committed to considering moving up to 10 turbines.
At the meeting, Fishermen’s Advisory Board members tried to get the company to commit to the alternative layout, or at least a reorientation of the wind farm.
“We have people to answer to beyond this room,” said Erich Stephens, the company’s chief development officer.
The fishermen reacted in frustration. Dellinger called it a deal-breaker. Chris Brown, a Point Judith fisherman who is president of the Seafood Harvesters of America, threatened to actively lobby against the project.
“We need to fish there. We need to fish the way we fish. You’re going to cave on this one,” he said.
Even though the Vineyard Wind project would be located in federal waters far from the Rhode Island coast, the Coastal Resources Management Council has jurisdiction through what’s known as federal consistency.
Under federal law, if a project would impact Rhode Island coastal resources or activities, such as fishing, it must be carried out in a way that’s consistent with state policies. Vineyard Wind is seeking a similar consistency certification from Massachusetts.
One of the issues raised by the council is a lack of specifics about the project, Fugate said. While Deepwater Wind submitted more than 3,000 pages of documentation to the agency while planning the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, Vineyard Wind’s application, filed on April 6, was only 37 pages long.
“It doesn’t give us a lot of detail,” said Fugate.
A week after Vineyard Wind filed the application, the council proposed a six-month stay to allow more time to request additional materials. Vineyard Wind declined the proposal.
In a letter, Vineyard Wind said the answers to the council’s questions are contained in a construction and operations plan that it filed with federal regulators. The plan submitted to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management runs nearly 1,900 pages, but the online link supplied by Vineyard Wind to the Coastal Resources Management Council goes only to a version that heavily redacts key information on environmental conditions and geology.
Vineyard Wind has since agreed to supply the information, according to the council.
Before Thursday’s meeting, the Fishermen’s Advisory Board had already met with Vineyard Wind on three previous occasions. Board members had individually met with the company at least seven other times, including a joint meeting July 9 with Deepwater Wind. But both fishermen and Coastal Resources Management Council staff said Vineyard Wind had only presented general plans and had been unwilling to make changes in response to the concerns raised at those meetings.
Despite the tensions on Thursday, fishermen and Coastal Resources Management Council staff said they were encouraged by the discussions. Vineyard Wind representatives also said they had not closed the door to modifying the project layout.
“There are a lot of issues facing the fishing industry, and we realize that offshore wind is another challenge,” Stephens said. “There is no desire to limit commercial fishing.”
The groups are set to meet again Aug. 14. If the issues can’t be resolved and the council turns down Vineyard Wind’s application, the company would be able to lodge an appeal with the U.S. secretary of commerce.
Fishermen say the concerns go beyond Vineyard Wind. With two other offshore wind developers planning projects in adjacent waters, it’s important that spacing and configuration are consistent from one wind farm to the next, they said.
“Our biggest concern is that our industry survives this,” Dellinger said in an interview. “I’m hopeful that these developers will want to work with us. At this point in time, that’s all we can hope for.”
Photo Credit: Vineyward Wind