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Recreational fishermen hurt by wind farm

In the February 18 edition of The Independent, Ray Bouchard III’s article (“Wind farm project shuts down fish trap”) laments the “unfortunate trade off” in closing the 150-year-old Black Point Fish Trap to make way for the sea cable installation project that will connect the Block Island Wind Farm to the mainland in Narragansett.

Rich Fuka, president of Rhode Island Fisherman’s Alliance, repeatedly refers to the fish trap as being “shut down.” However, the article states that the fish trap is being moved to the Bass Rock area, which is just a bit northeast of Black Point. So which is it?

Furthermore, state Department of Environmental Management spokeswoman Gail Mastrati indicates that the Black Point area will be “inoperable during and after construction of the cable installation and will remain off limits indefinitely.”

Off limits to whom? Nowhere in Bouchard’s article is mentioned the effect the power cable installation at Black Point and the subsequent (alleged) relocation of the fish trap to the Bass Rock area just up the coast will have on recreational anglers, both from boat and shore.

For better or worse, fish trapping in Rhode Island has been romanticized in the past few years via several media outlets as a “throwback” to old times; in reality it’s likely on its last legs. In any case, the traps have always been a navigation hazard to near-shore boating and fishing for noncommercial interests. Now it seems there will be two prime recreational fishing areas effectively deemed “off-limits” because of the power cable and fish trap zones, respectively.

The situation is inequitable, and once again the rights of the recreational fishing community seem to have been pushed to the fringe in the interest of commercial financial gain. Be careful navigating along the south shore of Narragansett – seems it’s going to be more hazardous (and roped off to fishing) than ever!

Dave Sweet