United States Coast Guard Bulletin …
The cold air brings with it many things each year; pumpkin-spiced coffee, frost on the ground, droves of holiday shoppers and adventurous fishermen heading out to brave chilling winds and frigid waters to catch Atlantic Striped bass.
Striped Bass are a prized favorite for anglers up and down the Atlantic coast for their size, challenge, and a delicacy in the kitchen; however fishermen who aren’t paying attention to where they are dropping their lines can end up snagging more than a fish – they can end up catching a hefty fine.
“Some anglers might not know this, but between 3 to 200-miles offshore, in an area called the Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ, there is a regulation in place to protect Striped Bass, to allow them to grow and prevent overfishing” said Lt. Matthew Kahley, an officer who deals with fisheries enforcement at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia.
Striped Bass were once such a plentiful species that farmers used them to fertilize their fields, but over the course of history their population was severely damaged. In order to make sure they stay healthy and to make sure the species isn’t overfished, agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Coast Guard work together to enforce the rules on the EEZ, and they have for quite some time.
“The Exclusive Economic Zone has been closed to the harvest and possession of Striped Bass since 1990, with the exception of a defined route to and from Block Island, where possession is permitted,” said Kate Brogan, a spokesperson for NOAA. “ NOAA Fisheries works closely with the Atlantic coastal states and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to sustainably manage this important coastwide fishery.
To brave the cold weather for fishing takes passion, and often times when someone is passionate, they can become engrossed in the activity and lose track of their location. Electronic charts and a marine band radio can greatly assist fishermen who are braving the frigid elements to ensure they don’t drift past the three-mile line.
“Protecting marine resources has long been a Coast Guard mission, and we have Coast Guard members out actively patrolling and enforcing these rules,” said Kahley. “If we find someone who is fishing for Striped Bass in the prohibited area, they should expect to receive a violation.”
The regulation and the fine though, shouldn’t catch the well-informed angler by surprise – it’s a regulation that is in-place year round.
“The fine for recreational anglers catching Striped Bass in the EEZ is $500 per fish” said Brogan. “If they were to catch more than five fish, the fine could be even larger than that.”
There are plenty of resources available to the angler who wants to be in-the-know; such as information on the biology and management, information on Striped Bass, and the penalties for fishing are available to all.