Pallone Reaffirms Opposition to the Opening of Exclusive Economic Zone to Fishing for Atlantic Striped Bass

Nov 18, 2003

"I regret that I could not be present at tonights public meeting to express my opposition to the opening of our federal waters to striped bass fishing. Such an opening would allow fishing by all sectors -- commercial, recreational, and party boats -- in a zone that had been previously off-limits to all striped bass fishing interests.

"I have alerted the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and Dr. Hogarth of NOAA Fisheries of my opposition to this action several times over the past months. I continue to believe that opening the Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ, to striped bass would be too great a burden on the continued, successful management of the fishery.

"Although the Atlantic Striped Bass has been a model of recovery from the miserable status of the fishery in the 1980s, recent Commission decisions on the fishery lead me to believe that we should keep the EEZ closed. The Commission voted this past February to increase commercial harvest of striped bass to 3.8 million pounds, while also allowing for the possibility of relaxed regulations for the recreational sector. I fear that simultaneously adding a geographical expansion of the fishery to the aforementioned changes could adversely impact the striped bass populations that all parties have worked so hard to rebuild.

"I have heard concerns from my constituents that this proposed action could also be detrimental to the large females that frequent the offshore waters of the EEZ. I understand that these fish spend part of each year migrating offshore prior to returning to the coastal and estuarine waters to spawn. Fishing directed toward these large, mature fish could undermine the great progress that has been made in rebuilding this species.

"Again, I advise the Commission and NOAA Fisheries to act cautiously on this matter, and I urge you to keep the EEZ closed to striped bass fishing. We cannot know the consequences of the increased quota under Amendment 6 until a year or two have passed, and it would be a tragedy to undermine the years of effort that have gone into rebuilding striped bass along the Atlantic coast.