Easter Shore, VA (Delmarva Now) - Striped bass hunters beware: Catch the fish in the wrong place and you could end up catching a big fine, too.
Striped bass are a prized favorite of anglers on the Atlantic coast, but recreational fishermen who aren’t paying attention to where they are dropping their lines can end up paying a fine of $500 per fish, the U.S. Coast Guard warned.
“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, 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 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 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 3-mile line, the Coast Guard said.
“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."
This restriction on striped bass fishing is 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.”