NOAA announces new bluefish plan

Posted 12/3/21

By CAPT. DAVE MONTI NOAA Fisheries will implement Amendment 7 to the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), as adopted by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (FMP). The Council …

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NOAA announces new bluefish plan


By CAPT. DAVE MONTI NOAA Fisheries will implement Amendment 7 to the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), as adopted by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (FMP). The Council manages bluefish in cooperation with the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission coastwide, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island. According to the most recent 2019 stock assessment bluefish are overfished and a rebuilding plan is warranted.

The purpose of this amendment is to update the FMP with the best scientific information available, and to respond to changes in the fishery over time. Highlights of Amendment 7 and updated plan include revised goals and objectives, a re-allocation of bluefish quota between fishery sectors allocating 14 percent to the commercial fishery and 86 percent to the recreational fishery, a re-allocation of commercial quota based on 10 years of landings data, a seven year rebuilding plan, and revising the specification process to account for sources of management uncertainty separately between commercial and recreational fishery sectors.

A major change that received great opposition for the recreational fishing community was continuing to allow quota transfers between the commercial and recreational sectors. The new plan allows for transfers both ways.

In an April 12, 2021 letter to the Mid-Atlantic Council and Commission during the public comment period for the Amendment, the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, which represents 7,500 anglers and 28 fishing associations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, expressed concern about many of the bluefish Fisheries Management Plan options that are now being implemented. RISAA said, “Bluefish are a high value fish to the recreational fishing community which accounts for 80 percent of the Allowable Catch Limit coastwide. And, 65 percent of the fish caught by the recreational fishing community are released,” said RISAA in their letter.

“The greatest value of bluefish to the recreational fishing community are the fish left in the water providing anglers with the opportunity to catch fish. This (like striped bass) is what drives the recreational fishery. Sixty-five percent of the recreational bluefish fishery is catch and release so the more fish in the water (the abundance of fish) is what drives the recreational fishery. Keeping high abundance levels without quota transfers between sectors is what drives a catch and release fishery and its economic value for bait & tackle shop sales, fuel, charter trips, etc.”

RISAA suggested that the Council and Commission totally missed the importance and value of a catch and release fishery and why it is important to leave fish in the water for anglers to catch and not allow quota transfers between sectors. “Quota transfers discourages catch & release practices to help create an abundance of fish for anglers to catch & release,” said RISAA.

For information on the approved Amendment now in the Federal Register visit

Seven fishes and a holiday recipe

I often write about the tradition of “seven fishes” during the holiday season as many readers are curious … why seven fish? The practice of serving “seven fish” on Christmas Eve dates back to the religious tradition in Italy of abstaining from eating meat on Christmas Eve.

Some say the seven fish tradition is for the seven days it took to make the earth, others say it pays tribute to the last seven of the Ten Commandments, which relate to human interaction, and still others say it reminds us of the seven deadly sins. However, some in Italy do not have a tradition of seven fish but rather one of twelve fish (for the twelve apostles) or a thirteen fish tradition (for the twelve apostles plus one for Jesus). 

Here’s one of my favorite seafood recipes for the holidays that includes three different fish in one dish, a white fish such as haddock or cod, scallops and shrimp. I call it Sandy’s Tasty Fish Casserole named after my good friend Sandy Ducharme who has opened her home to me and others  during the holiday season and often serves this dish.   

Sandy’s tasty fish casserole

This is NOT a milky, gooey casserole but a lightly baked dish of rice pilaf, cod, sea scallops and jumbo shrimp. Sandy said, “It is a great recipe for entertaining because you can make it ahead of time and then just bake it prior to dinner.”

Ingredients (serves eight)

2 pounds of white fish (cod, haddock or hake)

16 sea scallops, two per person

16 large shrimp (uncooked), two per person

½ cup lemon juice

½ stick butter or margarine

½ to ¾ cup lemon pepper panko bread crumbs (Sandy uses Progresso)

2 packages Far East rice pilaf

½ cup parmesan cheese

Cook rice pilaf as directed on package and set aside. Melt butter and mix with bread crumbs and set aside. Coat fish and shrimp (not scallops) with lemon juice, set on paper towel and pat dry. Place half of cooked rice pilaf on the bottom of a 9” x 12” baking dish. Place white fish on top of rice, sprinkle half of the butter/bread crumbs and cheese over white fish, place sea scallops and shrimp on top, place remaining rice on top of scallops and shrimp then sprinkle remanding butter/bread crumb mixture and top off with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Sandy said, “When the shrimp turns pink it’s done.”

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass.

“Anglers are catching school bass from the beaches with no reports of bluefish being caught.” said Joe Castaldi of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown.  Angler Gil Bell reports catching a 25-inch striped bass on Thanksgiving Day from the surf on a South County beach and another 25-inch fish Tuesday.

Tautog and cod.

 “Tautog fishing is still good. A little slower in the Bay, but good out in front of Newport. Few anglers are fishing in the cold but those that are fishing are catching keepers,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle said, “Tautog fishing slowed but anglers are catching fish off the medical office building at Kettle Point Riverside and out in front of Newport, shore anglers are catching tautog and last week a customer fishing for tautog caught a couple of cod from shore.” Joe Castaldi of Quaker Lane said, “The tautog bite is still very good out in front in deeper water.”


fishing has slowed quite a bit with few anglers fishing at this time,” said Tom Giddings of the Tackle Box. “We had a couple of customers that caught trout in locally stocked ponds last week,” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle. Joe Castaldi of Quaker Lane, said, “Customers are catching trout at Barber Pond and Silver Spring Lake with a decent largemouth bass bite in some areas too.”

Dave Monti holds a captain’s master 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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