Striped bass have recently come under attack from an unsuspecting actor: NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Striped bass are regulated by the states through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which works in coordination with NOAA. Under current law, striped bass cannot be targeted in federal waters–aka the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This norm, prohibiting the fishing of striped bass in the EEZ, has helped the population rebound from the near collapse in the 80s and offers a sanctuary for much of the species’ breeding population.

NOAA is considering opening up striped bass fishing in the EEZ surrounding Rhode Island’s Block Island, which could have devastating effects on the large, spawning population of striped bass. While the species is not overfished or subject to overfishing, anglers throughout the Northeast are beginning to worry about the status of striped bass. This potential deregulation of the EEZ would not help.

Photo curtesy of Kyle Schaefer

If you, like myself, enjoy responsibly fishing for striped bass, take a couple minutes¬†to comment on NOAA’s website about the proposed new rule:¬†NOAA Regulation Comment Portal. Below is a generic message that you can use, or you can write a more personal message.

Kyle Schaefer, a striped bass guide in Maine and New Hampshire, shared a message that concerned fishermen can copy and paste into the NOAA comment link:

“Opening the EEZ around block island for harvesting striped bass would be a devastating blow to smart striped bass management and the sets of a very scary precedent. Large striped bass, the most important segment of the spawning population, use this area as a safe haven. It is vital to protect this segment of the population especially since spawning stock has steadily declined since 2006 and the population hovers just above the overfished threshold benchmarks. Striped bass need our help, they have been proven time and time again to be more valuable swimming freely in our waters and sought after through recreational angling and the incredible economic impact generated by this segment of the industry proves it when striper populations thrive. Stripers are the cornerstone of New England sport-fishing and we MUST protect them. The entire population relies on the big breeders that call the EEZ in the Block Island Transit Zone home.

We cannot set the precedent that it is okay for each state to ask NOAA for permission to harvest even more stripers out of these vital protected areas. PLEASE do not allow this scary proposition to proceed forward. Representative Zeldin has already tried pushing this through congress and failed, now please stop this proposal to increase the harvest of large striped bass, again.”

Please take a few minutes and share your thoughts with NOAA–the future of this great fishery needs vocal advocates for its long-term protection.

Instagram:@KyleSchaefer.