New prohibition includes fresh and marine waters

from the April, 2006 newsletter

We knew it was coming.  Biologists have been telling us for the past couple of years that river herring stocks were dropping. At a public workshop conducted by DEM in February, we learned that theClosed sign decline was worse than everyone knew.  When Massachusetts closed it's herring runs, joining Connecticut in a total closure, it only made sense for Rhode Island to preserve what was left of it's herring stocks.

herringThe increased pressure that would result from people who came from neighboring states would destroy the fragile runs that were barely holding on to shrinking populations.  New regulations were drafted for both fresh and marine waters that would prohibit the possession of river herring in ALL Rhode Island waters.
On March 13, a public hearing was held for both versions.  It was a sure bet that the law would be immediately put into law for fresh waters, but before it could take place in salt water, the law required that the R.I. Marine Fisheries Council (RIMFC) approve and recommend the proposal.  A meeting of the RIMFC was to immediately follow the hearing, but lack of a quorum prohibited the meeting from taking place.

Using emergency powers granted by law, DEM Director  W. Michael Sullivan put the marine prohibition into place until the next meeting of the Fisheries Council (April 3) when they would take the vote.  (*Note: the vote took place and was unanimously approved)
The prohibition took effect immediately.

The new freshwater regulation reads:

No person shall land, catch, take, or attempt to catch or take any alewives, Alosa pseudoharengus or blueback herring Alosa aestivalis, from any fresh waters of the State of Rhode. Possession of any alewive or blueback herring at any time is prohibited and shall be evidence that said herring was taken in violation of this section.

The marine regulations are the same as with fresh water.

As reported here last month, DEM biologists showed just how drastic the decline was when they presented a graph that showed the run sizes of Gilbert Stuart and Nonquit.

Herring Graph

At the public hearing on March 13, Steve Medeiros, representing RISAA, stated:

The R.I. Saltwater Anglers Association supports the proposed closures, but in addition, we request:
1. That an annual stock status report be provided to the public by the RIDEM;
2. That during the closure period, RIDEM assemble a stakeholder group, comprised of organizations such as the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Assocations, Save the Bay and the Buckeye Brook Coalition, which will work with DEM staff to restore and improve the herring runs in the state.