Fish pot survey a win-win situation

Posted 2/7/24

It is not often you get a win, win when engaging in fisheries research. But the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation  (CFRF) is trying to find out what impact offshore wind farms have on …

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Fish pot survey a win-win situation


It is not often you get a win, win when engaging in fisheries research. But the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation  (CFRF) is trying to find out what impact offshore wind farms have on back sea bass and just completed their third year of a South Fork Wind Farm fish potmonitoring survey. The wind farm is 19 to 24 miles southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island.

The information will be invaluable for both recreational and commercial fishing. The survey is now complete for the Construction Phase of the project and will continue to the operational phase so fish abundance before, during and after construction can be measured.

The second “win” about this project is that in 2023 they were able to donate over 2,000 pounds of black sea bass and scup through the Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island’s Seafood Donation Program, and they are looking forward to donating more fish that would otherwise be discarded in the future.

The CFRF said, “The fish pot survey, which can be seen at SFWF: Fish Pot Survey — CFRF (, is monitoring the potential impacts of offshore wind development on finfish species like black sea bass and scup. We set our fish pot trawls only a few hundred feet from the base of the turbines, and it has been interesting watching the turbine construction progress throughout the year. Working alongside construction activities has been challenging, but we are very grateful to Joe Baker and Evan Adams of the F/V Harvest Moon for making this year go as smoothly as possible!”

The fish pot survey is one of the studies taking place at South Fork Wind Farm as part of their research and monitoring plan that was approved in 2020, three years before construction started in 2023.

The research and monitoring plan put in place by Ørsted at the South Fork Wind Farm is a good examples of industry cooperation with anglers to establish research and monitoring plan protocols. The plan is evidence that government, fishing interests, developers and scientists can work together for the benefit of all the people of the United States of America.

The South Fork Wind Farm research and monitoring plan included support for two ongoing studies that are recreational fishing focused and four new studies that fishermen advocated for through the Fisheries Advisory Board (FAB) of the Coastal Resource Management Council of Rhode Island in 2020.

Also in May of 2020, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in conjunction with the States of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, announced five studies it will be funding in offshore wind farm areas.  The aim of these studies is to measure positive or negative impacts across a broader region and not necessarily in just one wind farm. Measuring the cumulative positive or negative impacts of multiple wind farms is something all are interested in.

Highlights of the monitoring plan included a gillnet survey that will target winter skates and monkfish; a  beam trawl survey to study demersal fish and invertebrates because it is easier to maneuver in tight spaces where a limited amount of seabed can be sampled safely; a ventless trap survey will be conducted to collect data on lobster and crab resources; the ventless fish pot survey mentioned above to study black sea bass, scup and tautog, which are not often represented well in trawl surveys, so the idea is to use fish pots, which are more suited for complex sea bottoms; and a passive acoustic telemetry study tagging species of fish with acoustic transmitters, their movements and habitat use will be tracked using receivers on fixed buoys, as well as an autonomous glider vessel that travels the ocean.

More to come on this and other fish and habitat research as it is completed in wind farm areas.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing in stocked ponds for trout and salmon continues to be good. Angler Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren, said, “Fishing for trout has been outstanding with some very large rainbow and brook trout being caught. And the white perch bite has been pretty good too.”

For a complete list of trout stocked ponds in Massachusetts visit Mass Wildlife at Trout stocking report |  and in Rhode Island visit, or call 401-789-0281 or 401-539-0019 for more information on trout stocking.

Saltwater fishing has been limited with high winds and storms. However, anglers continue to catch school striped bass. If you want to try your hand at cod fishing call ahead to make a party boat reservation, vessels will sail once the weather clears. Visit and Full day rates for vessels are generally $130 to $135 per adult and around $80 for those under 12 years old.

Dave Monti holds a captain’s license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to or visit


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