by Jerry Vovcsko
With more and more oceanic areas being described as "barren" and "fishless" it only makes sense for nations to become more cautious about where, and to what extent, they allow heavy fishing pressure to be put on stocks. Along those lines, President Obama is looking to make a broad region of the central Pacific Ocean off-limits to fishing, energy exploration and other activities. The proposal, slated to go into effect later this year could create the world's largest marine sanctuary and just about double the area of ocean that is fully protected.
The announcement is part of a broader focus on maritime issues by an administration that has generally favored other environmental priorities. Given the political climate of these times there's a real good chance that the oceans effort, headed by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and White House counselor John D. Podesta, will trigger new political battles with Republicans over the scope of Obama's executive powers.
The president will also direct federal agencies to develop a comprehensive program aimed at eliminating ting seafood fraud and the global black-market fish trade. In addition, the administration came up with a rule that allows the public to nominate new marine sanctuaries off U.S. coasts and in the Great Lakes.
Under the proposal the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument would be expanded from almost 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles, all of it adjacent to seven islands and atolls controlled by the United States.
The designation would include waters up to 200 nautical miles offshore from the territories. Although the ocean area under consideration includes uninhabited islands in a remote region with sparse economic activity, the designation is expected to face objections from the U.S. tuna fleet that operates in the area.
Kerry said that the United States and other nations need to take bolder steps to protect marine habitat..."If this group can't create a serious plan to protect the ocean for future generations, then who can and who will?" he asked during an appearance at a State Department oceans conference.
More locally, we are seguing into the summer portion of our oceanic activities in Cape Cod waters. The fishing is good just about everywhere around these parts and will likely stay that way until we hit the dreaded "summer doldrums".
Bluefish are thick throughout Nantucket Sound, from Monomoy westward to Woods Hole blues can be encountered by boat and surf anglers alike. Never forget how tasty these fish are when grilled over a charcoal fire, especially if a few chunks of mesquite wood are included in the firebox.
On Nantucket proper blues have been visiting the north side of the big island lately and stripers are showing up on a now-and-then basis. Casting big plugs seems to draw strikes from bass on the upper size range and blues will hit just about anything tossed their way. Metal slabs will sometimes produce when blues aren't showing in numbers.
Over in Cape Cod Bay, where the iron bones of the former target ship James Longstreet form a fish-filled reef, black sea bass, scup, ‘tog, fluke and the odd mackerel serve as an embarrassment of bottom fishing riches. Go online to find the coordinates of the old vessel…or just head north across the Bay from Barnstable Harbor and when you see a gaggle of boats anchored up, you're probably at the wreck site. Any kind of bait will do or dip some bucktail jigs or jig & plastic combos…you're sitting over a veritable fish-bazaar.
Fishing the outside beaches calls for more patience than some anglers might possess but old timers who've worked these shorelines for decades know that a skunking is inevitably followed – eventually – by blitz conditions. The trick is to put up with slim-pickings in order to be on site when the fish come cruising through. It also pays to scout the shoreline at dead low tide in order to identify the location of "holes" and sandbars because wind, waves and currents rearrange the underwater topography out here on a daily basis. Further up around Provincetown the stripers have pretty much hung around Race Point since the start of the season. If the bass aren't strung out on the Atlantic side, a quick trip over to Herring Cove can often produce good results.
Billingsgate Shoal is providing some striper action for the tube&worm folk and before long a smart angler will begin testing things with live eels, especially as dusk fades to darkness. Big snakes often mean bid bass and The Bay is a good spot to check out the eel situation. From Billingsgate, a small boat can run southward and drift around Barnstable Harbor and along Sandy Neck beach in the evening hours. Catch a falling tide at the northwest corner of the Harbor and there may be a Large hanging around there at the corner looking for targets-of-opportunity. Drift an eel on the current and hang on! If eels aren't at hand, a mackerel chunk is next best.
For folks with bigger boats, reports from the Canyons say the action has been sporadic but occasionally lively for tuna, billfish and sharks. The weather can be iffy for runs out there but patient anglers can sometime spot a window of good weather and make the run with impressive results. South of the Vineyard there's ample bluefish activity but striper fishing hasn't been the same since Wasque Rip got rearranged by the winter storms a couple years back.
And, to wrap things up for the month of June I should probably mention the out-of-town visitors that passed through the area. A beluga whale dropped in near Fall River and meandered up the Taunton River drawing crowds hoping to spot the all-white creature that normally inhabits the Arctic region.
And around the same time a pod of killer whales cruised past about 150 miles southeast of the coast of Nantucket. July will have to go some to top that.