DEM To Hold Public Meeting May 14 on Proposed Amendments To Marine Fisheries Regulations Governing Monkfish and Lobsters

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PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, May 14, on proposed amendments to the Rhode Island marine fisheries regulations.

The proposed amendments set a control date for the commercial monkfish fishery and set maximum gauge sizes for the Area 3, 4, 5, and 6 lobster fisheries.

Regarding the monkfish fishery, the proposed regulations set an April 1, 2008 control date as a cut-off for establishing potential eligibility criteria for future access to a fishery in accordance with a state fisheries management plan. Management of monkfish in state waters is evolving in concert with the federal waters program of the New England Fisheries Management Council. The control data will allow for the possibility of a limited entry, history based management program for state licensed fishers, if such a program is proposed and adopted in the future.

Proposed amendments to the lobster fishery include a maximum gauge size of 5 ¼ inches for all of Area 4 (the North mid-Atlantic), Area 5 (inshore South mid-Atlantic), and Area 6 (New York and Connecticut state waters). The proposed rule is consistent with the maximum gauge size proposed at the March public hearing for Area 2, which includes Rhode Island waters. Rhode Island and other southern New England states have long maintained minimum gauge size restrictions, but the move toward a maximum gauge size, which is designed to protect the largest females which produce the most eggs, is new this spring. It is being undertaken pursuant to a requirement imposed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

With regard to Area 3 (off shore waters), where there is currently no maximum gauge, the maximum gauge size shall be no greater than the carapace length of seven inches.

The proposed amendments are available on DEM’s website,, by clicking on “Fish and Wildlife” under “Offices and Divisions“, then clicking on “Marine Fisheries“. They are also available at DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife offices in Wakefield and Jamestown.

The May 14 public hearing will take place at 6 p.m. in the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography Corless Auditorium on South Ferry Road in Narragansett. Written comments will be accepted at the hearing, or may also be submitted by noon on May 14 to the Division at its Jamestown office, 3 Fort Wetherill Road, Jamestown, RI 02835.