U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would prohibit the commercial harvesting of Atlantic Striped Bass in the coastal waters and the exclusive economic zone of the United States in order to enable coastal populations to return to historical abundances.
The Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act would designate striped bass as federal game fish by prohibiting the commercial harvesting of the fish and reserving it exclusively for recreational catches.
"Striped Bass is a valuable resource along the Atlantic Coast and is one of the most important fisheries for recreational anglers on the Jersey Shore," Pallone said. "By designating striped bass as federal game fish, we are ensuring its protection and preservation to avoid a potential collapse in the future."
In October 2007, President Bush signed an executive order establishing gamefish status for striped bass and red drum in federal waters, moving another step forward in conserving two of the most popular game fish in the United States. The executive order prohibits the sale of striped bass and red drum caught in federal waters and ensures they are reserved for recreational catch as a conservation measure.
While the New Jersey congressman believes the executive order was an important step toward fixing the problem, the legislation he introduced today is a more comprehensive approach that will provide a long-lasting solution to address both state and federal waters.
Pallone pointed to successful state and federal cooperation and angler support over the last two decades for the recovery of the striped bass population after shortages in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, Atlantic striped bass stocks declined as much as 77 percent. To help the fishery recover, Atlantic states implemented a moratorium on the commercial fishery and placed strict catch limits on the recreational fishery.
A study on the Economics of Recreational and Commercial Striped Bass Fishing released in 2007 concluded that if commercial fishing of striped bass was eliminated "future harvest levels would produce greater returns for coastal economics and the national economy," since "fish captured by the recreational sector are far more valuable on a per pound basis than when harvest commercially."