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Fishing notes

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Bass ban in EEZ continues

The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Sept. 8 that it would continue the closure of striped bass fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone. The EEZ includes all of the coastal waters from three miles off shore out to the United States’ territorial waters.

“This news is a great relief to striped bass fishermen everywhere,” said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. “It was a bad idea from the very beginning.”

RFA and Maryland Saltwater Sportsmen’s Association were part of a letter-writing campaign supporting the continued closure. NMFS received nearly 8,000 comments from RFA members from Maine through North Carolina pointing out that lifting the harvest ban would, in the long-term, damage the stock.

“The ongoing recovery of Atlantic striped bass is arguably the crowning achievement of U.S. fisheries management, a success that was only possible due to recreational anglers swaying policy decisions against what NMFS and the ASMFC wanted, which was to open the EEZ,” says Jim Donofrio. “Recreational anglers and their efforts are truly responsible for this success.”

DEP tentatively renews Millstone permit

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection announced a tentative decision to renew a water discharge permit for the Millstone Power Station that contains requirements aimed at better protecting winter flounder and other aquatic life in Long Island Sound.

The DEP staff recommendation would renew a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit for Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc., allowing the company to continue discharging water into Long Island Sound at the two Millstone units currently operating in Waterford.

The permit, which is required under federal and state law, would allow Dominion to discharge 2.28 billion gallons of water a day into Long Island Sound. The water is discharged after being taken in from the Sound to cool the nuclear reactors used to generate electricity at the power units. The water discharged from the Millstone units is warmer than water in Long Island Sound. Conditions in the NPDES permit limit the maximum discharge temperature increases and the distance it can travel before cooling.

The DEP staff recommendation would require Dominion to take several steps to address concerns about the impact of power plant operations on various aquatic species. These steps include:

• installation by Dec. 31, 2009, of new technology to reduce the intake of cooling water by about 40 percent during the optimal spawning season for winter flounder, which typically runs from early April until mid-May;

• undertaking a detailed feasibility study of the potential benefits of installing fine mesh screens to reduce the mortality rate of winter flounder larvae; and

• conducting a detailed study to determine steps that could be taken to augment the natural reproduction of Niantic River winter flounder including transporting pre-spawn winter flounder from other areas of Long Island Sound or Block Island Sound to the Niantic River.

The permit conditions recommended by the DEP staff also address Long Island Sound water quality issues by imposing requirements that would reduce the discharge of various pollutants from the two units. The lower limits would apply to hydrazine, chlorine, and oils and grease.