PALLONE ANNOUNCES NMFS' DECISION TO KEEP EEZ CLOSED TO STRIPED BASS FISHING
Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), the ranking Democrat on the Fisheries and Oceans Subcommittee, announced today that he expects the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to make public their decision to keep the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) closed to striped bass fishing.
Pallone learned this information when it was announced by NMFS Director William Hogarth at a congressional staff briefing earlier today. Hogarth said the agency will release their decision late this afternoon.
"I am very pleased that NMFS responded to my concerns and those of New Jersey fishermen by taking the prudent approach to prevent the striped bass stock from collapsing in the future," Pallone said. "With this decision the Administration is recognizing the fact that striped bass are simply not suited for commercial harvesting and should be conserved as best as possible."
In February 2003 the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted to recommend that the EEZ be opened again to striped bass fishing and harvesting. At a congressional hearing in July, Pallone urged NMFS to reject that recommendation and maintain the current moratorium. Pallone and other members of the New Jersey congressional delegation wrote formal comments to NMFS in May demonstrating their bi-partisan opposition to plans to lift the moratorium. Pallone has also introduced H.R. 2059, a bill that would prohibit the commercial harvesting of striped bass in coastal waters and in the EEZ.
The striped bass stock collapsed in the 1980s after going from 15 million pounds in 1973 to a low of 3.5 million pounds in 1983. In response to the collapse, Congress passed the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act and many states closed their commercial fisheries. In 1990, the Secretary of Commerce placed a moratorium on commercial harvesting of striped bass from the EEZ.
"I was alarmed in February 2003 to hear that the ASMFC voted to recommend that the EEZ be opened again to fishing for striped bass," Pallone said. "For recreational anglers who currently fish for striped bass and face strong restrictions including tight size and bag limits, opening up the EEZ would have been a puzzling move and I am glad NMFS saw fit to reject that recommendation."