Concern Regarding Potential Menhaden Regulation Changes

Terrance Gray
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street
Providence, RI 02908

Director Gray:

The Board of Directors of Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) is concerned by a recent recommendation made by the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council regarding potential changes to state Menhaden regulations. During its April 3, 2023 meeting, the council voted to recommend a modification to Marine Fisheries regulations that would allow commercial fishing vessels to harvest 50,000 lbs of Menhaden per week in the Menhaden Management Area (MMA), regardless of whether the MMA is open based on biomass estimates. We ask that you deny this change and maintain the status quo based on the lack of a scientific basis for the decision.

As you know, current Menhaden regulations are the result of extensive work by RIDEM several years ago and these regulations stopped the “Pogy Wars” in the Bay in the early 2000s. RIDEM staff collaborated with scientists, commercial and recreational fishing interests, and other stakeholders to develop this set of regulations. In addition to their commercial value, Menhaden provide important ecological functions, serving as the foundation of the local food chain and filtering nutrients in the Bay. The Menhaden MMA and biomass floor acknowledge the ecological value of the Menhaden and ensure that a baseline level of Menhaden can safely exist in Narragansett Bay. The proposed regulation virtually eliminates these protections, allowing for an unlimited number of vessels to harvest 50,000 lbs weekly with no regard for the existing biomass of Menhaden.

We understand that there will be an increase in Rhode Island’s Menhaden quota but this is no reason to change regulations that are currently working. Given the importance of Menhaden to multiple industries, as well as Bay health, any modifications to the state’s well-regarded Menhaden management program must be taken only after careful consideration of all relevant factors, including ecological functions. As proposed, this regulation would be a major step backwards for Rhode Island.

Thank you for considering our comments.


Dawn Filliatreault Wood, President
Richard Hittinger, 1st Vice President