In response to the reopening of the black sea bass fishery in state waters in both New Jersey and Long Island, I contacted representatives in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut to see if these New England states would follow suit. Here are my findings.
Massachusetts: According to Paul Caruso, Aquatic Biologist III in Connecticut, who is assigned to black sea bass, there is no intention at this time to re-open the season in Massachusetts’ waters to match that of Federal waters. Essentially, as there is no targeted fishery in the winter there is no need to modify the closure which took place on October 31.
Rhode Island: I contacted Mark Gibson, the Deputy Chief of the Fish & Wildlife Department in Rhode Island. As there is at times some considerable by-catch of black sea bass by both private and head boats targeting cod in and around Block Island, I figured this to be the most likely New England state to follow suit. Mark confirmed that as of this writing there is no plan to re-open the fishery. However, he did state that there are talks underway as to the cost and procedure to take such steps and did not close the door completely. I will, of course, update this status if it changes at any time.
Connecticut: For the word in Connecticut, I contacted Matthew Gates at the Marine Division of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. I was somewhat surprised when Matt informed me that as the emergency closure enacted in November expired with the new year, the season was technically open in Connecticut with the 15 fish at a minimum of 13 inches still in effect. This is good news for Connecticut fishermen, although the winter black sea bass fishery in Connecticut does not experience all that much pressure.