Monday, November 16, 2015

NOAA Promises to Step Up Striped Bass Law Enforcement

NOAA says it will step up enforcement of rockfish rules
With the winter migration of striped bass headed this way, NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement has announced that it will step up its efforts to protect the species from illegal poaching activities.

“Right now, the striped bass are beginning to migrate south from the northern states,” said Lt. Wynn Carney, OLE supervisory enforcement officer. “The striped bass will follow the bait south near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and in spring they will begin making their way up our streams and rivers to lay eggs.”

In order to ensure the sustainability of striped bass, the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act, found in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 697.7, was promulgated. Thus, during the months of November through February, NOAA’s OLE is joining state and federal marine law enforcement organizations in supporting a focused enforcement effort, targeting vessels retaining and fishing for striped bass in the EEZ.

Marine law enforcement officers, including OLE and the U.S. Coast Guard, in the Mid-Atlantic will be ticketing anglers who violate regulations and who target striped bass within the EEZ. Officers will be conducting at-sea, aerial, and dock-side inspections.
The EEZ (exclusive economic zone), the zone from 3 miles out to 200 miles from the shoreline is a matter of some contention in the striped bass fishery. Stripers school up in winter and migrate down the coast, both in and out of the EEZ. Recreational and commercial fishing is allowed by most states inside the EEZ (0-3 miles) but illegal in the federal waters of the EEZ. However it is pretty easy for boats to slip across into the EEZ  and fish for stripers, and sneak back in and claim that the fish caught were inside and legal.

This NOAA map shows the U.S. exclusive economic zone.

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