Boy have we had a good month! First, against all odds, our tautog proposal was passed/recommended by the RI Marine Fisheries Council by a 4 – 2 vote and has now been forwarded to the Director of RI DEM for his approval. And, we put on one heck of a successful New England Saltwater Fishing Show.
More on the tog vote. Your voices mattered – and were heard. Talk about a strong turnout across the board, in person, via zoom and in written comment. Tog are the fish everyone seems to be crazy about these days, and our desire to protect this world class fishery became infectious. Not only with our members but also with the fishing community at large. We had Charter Captains, both members and non-members, and even a head boat (Island Current) support our position. That together with our best oral arguments seemed to have an effect on the Council who heard us loud and clear. When it comes time to give credit the Council Members themselves deserve all the credit in the world… we asked them to be bold and they were!
At press time I heard from Terry Gray, DEM Director, that he approved the tautog regulation limiting anglers to one fish 21″ or greater. This is a great win for RISAA’s effort to ease off on killing so many large breeders. The number of fish in the fall will remain at five fish, rather than the RISAA preferred, four fish/angler as Director Gray said the State of RI would be out of compliance with Massachusetts as a Region and the ASMFC if it opted for this reduction.
However, in another positive development, RI DEM indicated that the State of Massachusetts has agreed to joint meetings to address RI’s desire to be proactive with tautog stock protections.
It is great to have our efforts pay off and have a bit more protection for our favorite crab munchers.
On to the Show. Less than three sleepless nights after the Council vote, the vendors started arriving for our first Saltwater Fishing Show in three years. We now know it’s safe to say,… We did it!! We put on a Show we can all be proud to have been a part of. Our Show and RISAA are back in the minds of the New England fishing community, not that we really ever went away, but what a way to celebrate than with our Show’s return! Of course this simply would not of been possible were it not for each and every RISAA volunteer who stepped up to support our Show. The show plus set up day required 11 shifts of volunteers, all as necessary as the next and each one was filled with smiling faces and helpful members by the time we kicked off Thursday night set up. If ever an event existed that needed a multitude of talents and abilities, this Show was it, and RISAA volunteer members came forward and shined.
Each of you have my heartfelt appreciation; we simply do not have the Show if not for you. My hope is you found it to be a rewarding experience and one you will consider doing again. Along with the RISAA Board (who also deserve praise for their own volunteer effort) I will continue to work toward making the volunteer experience as enjoyable and rewarding as it should be.
As a recap, while we didn’t set any records, we had a very solid turnout of 9,000 plus attendees, most of whom came looking to make purchases, which led to very pleased vendors and a strong commitment from many not only to return but also to increase their booth space for next year. So, we are off to a good start on filling in the holes we had this year. We also were able to signup many new members as well as fund raise a bit for RISAA and the Foundation.
In addition to our own members volunteering time and effort, we had multiple very appreciated and generous donations from small amounts to large sums for both the Club and the Foundation, not the least of which were from “Mr. Poseidon“, Crafty One Customs and RI DEM Enforcement Officers, each of whom made large unsolicited donations which helped us in turn raise even more funds for both club activities and the Foundation. This, coupled with our volunteers, is the kind of things that make this Club so special and is part of our enduring success. Again let me say on behalf of myself and the RISAA Board. Thank You.