CCA New York Coastal Conservation Association of New York
Dedicated to the conservation of New York's marine resources
News

PO Box 1118 • West Babylon, NY 11704
917-256-1805

          December 1, 2003

Anne Lange, Chief
State-Federal Fisheries Division
Office of Sustainable Fisheries
National Marine Fisheries Service
1315 East West Highway, Room 13317
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Dear Ms. Lange:

On behalf of Coastal Conservation Association New York (“CCA NY”), I am taking this opportunity to comment on the current proposal to permit fishing for and retaining striped bass in the Exclusive Econimic Zone of the United States (the “EEZ”).

CCA NY is opposed to such an opening, as it is likely to disrupt the current interstate management program for striped bass, both by undermining the effectiveness of individual state laws and regulations and by changing the harvest patterns in the fishery to the detriment of the current participants in both commercial and recreational striped bass fisheries. Because of such likely disruption, any opening of the EEZ would be prohibited by the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act (the “Act”).[1]

I

THE ACT PLACES STRICT LIMITS ON THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE’S ABILITY TO OPEN THE EEZ TO STRIPED BASS FISHING, WHICH WOULD PROHIBIT THE OPENING CURRENTLY BEING PROPOSED

 

A

The Act prohibits the issuance of any regulation that would interfere with the current striped bass management regime, cannot assure the long-term conservation of the striped bass population and is not consistent with the national standards set forth under 16 U.S.C. 1851

 

Paragraph 9(a) of the Act states that

The Secretary shall provide regulations governing fishing for Atlantic striped bass in the exclusive economic zone that the Secretary determines—

(1)             are consistent with the national standards set forth in section 301 of the Magnuson Act (16 U.S.C. 1851);

(2)             are compatible with the Plan and each Federal moratorium in effect on fishing for Atlantic striped bass within the coastal waters of a coastal State;

(3)             ensure the effectiveness of State regulations on fishing for Atlantic striped bass within the coastal waters of a coastal State; and

(4)             are sufficient to assure the long-term conservation of Atlantic striped bass populations.

 

No regulation, including any regulation permitting fishing for or possessing striped bass in the EEZ, that does not meet the four specified criteria may be issued. As will be demonstrated below, existing facts and law make it impossible for the Secretary to make the determination required by the above referenced section of the Act. Thus, any regulation purporting to open the EEZ to striped bass fishing would be illegal.

 

B

Opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing will shift current recreational harvest patterns in a manner that will substantially benefit anglers in a small minority of coastal states while harming anglers elsewhere on the coast, and thus is inconsistent with National Standard 4.

 

While commercial striped bass harvest is governed by a “hard” quota allocated among the states with commercial fisheries, recreational harvest, and recreational regulations, are governed by fishing mortality rate (“F”) applied over the entire coast. The target F (“Ftarget”) is 0.30, while the threshold F (“Fthreshold”), beyond which overfishing is deemed to occur, is 0.41.[2] If, for any year, F exceeds Ftarget, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Striped Bass Management Board (the “Board”) may take action to reduce harvest; however, if F exceeds Fthreshold, the Board must reduce harvest.[3]

 

If overharvest is due to commercial excess, the remedy is simple and appropriate, with the offending state having its commercial quota reduced by a compensation amount in the following year.[4] However, an excess attributable, at least in part, to the recreational fishery is not handled in a similar manner. Instead, recreational management measures designed to reduce F to acceptable levels would be applied to all anglers, in all states, regardless of whether an increased harvest in a particular state was responsible for all or part of the overage.

 

The manner in which measures implemented to remedy overharvest are applied to the recreational fishing sector has particular relevance to the issue of permitting striped bass fishing in the EEZ. Striped bass generally remain in state waters, and are usually found in the EEZ only in a few areas.[5] Thus, striped bass anglers along most of the coast would receive little or no direct benefit from the creation of a fishery in the EEZ. However, because of the presence of a few ocean bottom features attractive to striped bass in the EEZ, anglers in a very limited number of jurisdictions are positioned to substantially increase harvest should the EEZ be opened to striped bass fishing. This is particularly true of Massachusetts, where a number of offshore rock ledges off the northeastern portion of the state, and a series of bottom structures southeast of Cape Cod, attract large numbers of striped bass that current law places out of the reach of recreational or commercial fishers. Much of the current effort to open the EEZ to striped bass fishing originated with Massachusetts anglers who wish to target the abundance of fish located of such offshore structure. Given that, for the period 1993-2002, Massachusetts’ recreational harvest was always among the highest of any coastal state,[6] despite the fact that its regulations limited anglers to only a single fish rather than the two that could be retained by anglers in most other states,[7] and that following the implementation of Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass (“Amendment 6”), Massachusetts increased its bag limit to two fish,[8] it is not difficult to predict that opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing will cause a substantial increase in harvest by Massachusetts anglers.

 

In view of that fact that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Striped Bass Technical Committee (the “Technical Committee”) has calculated F in 2002 to be 0.35,[9] more than 15% above Ftarget and not far below Fthreshold, and the fact that Massachusetts led all other states in recreational striped bass harvest in that year,[10] even though it had not yet increased its bag limit to two fish, it is also probable that the increase in Massachusetts recreational harvest will be substantial enough (particularly when coupled with Amendment 6’s increase in coastal commercial harvest) to keep F well above Ftarget, and probably to push it above Fthreshold. In response to any such increase in Massachusetts harvest and its effect on F,[11] the Board would eventually be compelled to impose more restrictive regulations on anglers in all states, who would see their relative share of the recreational striped bass harvest shrink as that of Massachusetts increased substantally. Such an unbalanced result would be a clear violation of National Standard 4, which states, in part, that “Conservation and management measures shall not discriminate between residents of different States…”

 

Since any regulation that violates a national standard also fails to meet the requirements of Section 9 of the Act, no regulation permitting striped bass fishing in the EEZ may be issued.

 

C

Opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing would render state regulations ineffective, and would jeopardize the integrity of the management plan

 

The legislative history of the Act and subsequent amendments indicates that, prior to the Act’s enactment, enforcement of Maryland’s striped bass laws and regulations (and, by implication, the enforcement of every state’s striped bass laws and regulations) was seriously compromised by the existence of a fishery in the EEZ, and that it was precisely such problems that the Act was intended to cure.[12] Nothing has changed since the relevant provisions of the Act were adopted, and the need to maintain the integrity of state regulations still militates against creating a striped bass fishery in the EEZ.

 

Any EEZ opening would have the greatest impact on the states’ ability to maintain and enforce gear restrictions and prohibitions on commercial harvest. Amendment 6 calls for the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) to open the EEZ fishery with no regulation beyond a 28-inch size limit, and the ambiguous recommendation that “The states should have the ability to adopt more restrictive regulations for fishers and vessels licensed in their states.”[13] To open a striped bass fishery under such conditions would effectively render state laws ineffective.

 

The most vulnerable state laws and regulations would be those that prohibit commercial striped bass fishing.[14] As a rule, such laws and regulations recognize the limited jurisdictions of the states, and prohibit only the commercial harvest of striped bass in the state’s waters. Examples of such restrictions may be found in a number of states, including Maine[15] and Connecticut.[16] Nothing in such laws, however, prevent the landing of striped bass caught in the EEZ in such states, most of which have been provided with at least some commercial allocation in Amendment 6,[17] despite their clearly enunciated policies against commercial exploitation of the species.

 

As a result, two very distinct problems arise. The first is of a purely legal nature. It has been suggested that states need merely prohibit the commercial landings of any striped bass in order to prevent EEZ-caught fish from being brought into any of the state’s ports. However, such suggestion ignores an obvious issue of constitutional law. Can the state prohibit the sale of striped bass caught in the EEZ after the federal government has issued regulations that allow such fish to be sold? While the answer to that question may be debated, it is certainly likely that any state that tries to outlaw the sale of EEZ-caught fish will find itself the defendant in a lawsuit, and that the threat of litigation itself can have a chilling effect on enforcement. The second problem is the purely practical problem of enforcement. There is little doubt that fisheries enforcement resources, on both the state and federal level, are severely overburdened. In the EEZ, the same Coast Guard units charged with enforcing fishery laws, along with their traditional responsibility of saving life and property at sea and preventing the smuggling of contraband into the United States, are now responsible for substantial Homeland Security duties. However, the current prohibition on striped bass fishing in the EEZ at least has the saving grace that it is relatively easy to enforce. If a vessel is in the EEZ and has striped bass on board, it is in violation, and no investigation need be carried out as to whether the fish were caught in state waters open to commercial harvest, whether proper gear was employed, etc. However, no such simple mechanism would exist for enforcing state laws should the EEZ striped bass fishery be opened. Mere possession of striped bass by a commercial vessel in a state prohibiting commercial harvest in state waters would not be enough. Unless an enforcement agent actually saw the fish being brought aboard a vessel and retained while the vessel was in state waters, any prosecution would be vulnerable to the defense that the fish were caught in the EEZ and, in the case where a vessel was stopped in state waters before reaching port, that the fish would be landed in a state with an existing commercial striped bass fishery.

 

In the same way, states that restrict the gear that may be employed in the commercial striped bass fishery could find their policy undermined by federal regulations. Many states, for example, prohibit the use of trawls in a directed striped bass fishery. The proposed opening of the ASMFC provides no such restriction, and it is easy to imagine a handful of fishers employing such efficient gear monopolizing a fishery that once contributed to the income of a greater number of small-scale fishers. Again, it can be said that state regulators can offer some relief from such abuses. However, Amendment 6’s statement that “The states should have the ability to adopt more restrictive regulations for fishers and vessels licensed in their states” provides little reason to expect relief. In reality, the statement is so vague that it has little practical meaning. Does it apply to a state where a vessel is registered, where it makes its primary port, off which it fishes, or where it offloads its catch? For example, if a trawler registered in New Jersey (no commercial fishery), is berthed in Virginia for the winter season (February 1-December 31 season), and fills its hold with wintering striped bass in the EEZ off North Carolina (state has winter season, trawl-specific quota; no season or gear restriction in EEZ), then lands those fish in Georgia (no coastal striped bass population to regulate), which law applies? The foregoing example, far from merely demonstrating the difficulty in applying appropriate state regulations to vessels fishing in the EEZ, demonstrates how a few large vessels, capable of harvesting hundreds of thousands of pounds of striped bass in a single trip, could circumvent and ultimately frustrate not just state management, but the entire Interstate Fishery Management Plan for striped Atlantic Striped Bass (“the Plan”)(it may be interesting to note that the same issue arose with regard to the management of red drum in both the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic, where it was ultimately decided that closing the EEZ to all fishing was the best solution).

 

Because opening the EEZ could easily frustrate state laws and regulations designed to manage striped bass, and could put the Plan in jeopardy, any regulation that would permit such an opening would be prohibited by Section 9 of the Act, and thus could not be legally issued.

 

D

Opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing is not consistent with the long-term health of the Atlantic striped bass population

 

In adopting Amendment 6, the Board chose Ftarget=0.30 because it “provides a higher long-term yield from the fishery and adequate protection to ensure that the striped bass population is not reduced to a level where the spawning potential is adversely affected.”[18] However, as mentioned above, 2002 harvest has already exceeded Ftarget by more than 15%, and liberalized recreational and commercial regulations that went into effect in 2003 are likely to raise F, which was 0.35 in 2002, to even higher levels in subsequent years. Thus, any margin of “protection to ensure that the striped bass population is not reduced to a level where the spawning population is adversely affected” offered by the established Ftarget is already eroding. Opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing, a move which can only further increase F, is thus inconsistent with adequately protecting the spawning potential of the striped bass population.

 

Because opening the EEZ could erode existing protections for the spawning potential of the striped bass population, such opening would be inconsistent with the need to assure the long-term conservation of the Atlantic striped bass population, as mandated by Section 9 of the Act. Thus, any such regulation would not meet the Act’s requirements, and would be illegal.

 

II

THE ATLANTIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION PROVIDES SCANT JUSTIFICATION FOR OPENING A STRIPED BASS FISHERY IN THE EEZ

 

In a letter received by NMFS on April 24, 2003, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (“ASMFC”) presented seven arguments to support its request that NMFS open the EEZ to striped bass fishing.[19] Upon analysis, none of them, alone or in combination, provide a compelling argument justifying the creation of a striped bass fishery in federal waters. Those arguments, and an analysis of their insufficiency, is set forth below.

 

(1) In 1995, due in part to a closure of the EEZ in 1990 to striped bass harvest, the population of this species was declared fully restored by the Commission. The purpose of closing the EEZ was to protect strong year classes entering the population and to promote rebuilding of the overfished population.

 

While CCA NY does not dispute the primary thrust of the above statement—that the EEZ closure contributed to the recovery of the Atlantic striped bass population—it takes very strong issue to any suggestion that such statement provides support to any decision to open a striped bass fishery in the EEZ. In fact, it does just the opposite. The success of the current striped bass management regime, which regime includes an EEZ closure, makes a persuasive argument that the management measures should be judged a success that should be kept intact. Such management measures present an integrated whole, with each provision interacting with every other. Eliminating any provision could introduce a substantial risk that the remaining provisions would be weakened, to the detriment of the Plan and the health of the striped bass population. A critical analysis of the history of the Plan, coupled with the legislative history of the Act, suggests that creating a striped bass fishery in the EEZ would have a pronounced negative effect on the remaining elements of the Plan and on the overall striped bass fishery.

 

When ASMFC stated, in its letter to NMFS, that “The purpose of closing the EEZ was to protect strong year classes entering the population and to promote rebuilding of the overfished population,” it made a statement that was both technically accurate and extremely misleading. Such protection and rebuilding was not merely the purpose of the EEZ closure, but rather the purpose of the entire Plan,[20] which was premised on the existence of consistent state laws and regulations that would protect and manage the striped bass resource throughout its range. However, as described in more detail in Section I-C, above, the existence of a striped bass fishery in the EEZ created an enforcement loophole that made effective regulation of the state fisheries problematic. Thus, while the Plan (or, more precisely, Amendment 3 to the Plan, which was in effect at that time) was designed to protect strong year classes and end overfishing through cooperative state efforts, achieving such goal was not assured without closing the enforcement loophole through the EEZ closure.

 

Therefore, the function of the EEZ closure was not merely “to protect strong year classes entering the population and to promote rebuilding of the overfished population.” The function of the EEZ closure was, and still is, to safeguard the efficacy of state laws and regulations. That function is recognized in the Act, and remains a strong argument militating against opening a striped bass fishery in the EEZ.

 

(2) The commercial harvest is controlled by hard quotas; when they are reached the fishery is closed; and overages are taken out of next year’s quotas. The Commercial quota will be landed regardless of whether or not the EEZ is opened.

 

Again, one of ASMFC’s arguments in support of opening a striped bass fishery in the EEZ makes a better case for keeping such fishery closed: “The Commercial quota will be landed regardless of whether or not the EEZ is opened.”

 

CCA NY has no doubt that statement is true. Thus, there is no compelling economic argument for opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing. The striped bass quota will be filled even if the fishery remains closed. However, a social argument against opening the EEZ can easily be made.

 

Currently, the coastal commercial striped bass fishery, at least as it exists north of Delaware Bay, is comprised of a large number of fishers who each harvest a relatively small number of striped bass. Gear is often simple, of a type that can be fished by a single operator. Highly efficient gear, such as trawls, accounted for less than 200,000 pounds of the 6.3 million pounds of striped bass caught commercially in 2002.[21] Such a commercial striped bass fishery requires a relatively modest investment of capital, and provides an income to many inshore harvesters who move seasonally between species, and do not devote a substantial part of their time to any single fishery. However, if the EEZ were opened to striped bass fishing, such small operators would be placed into direct competition with fishers employing large vessels and highly-efficient gear, which are capable of venturing farther from shore during periods of inclement weather, to harvest striped bass in large numbers when they concentrate on offshore structure. As a result of such operations, the striped bass quota is likely to be concentrating among a smaller number of fishers, bringing an economic boon to a handful of operators while denying smaller operators their traditional share of the fishery.

 

Since, as ASMFC points out, the commercial harvest is likely to be achieved in any event, there is no offsetting public benefit justifying the harm that may accrue to inshore fishers should the EEZ be opened. Thus, no such opening should take place.

 

(3) Currently, recreational and commercial catches are occurring in the EEZ and these fish are required to be discarded. Opening the EEZ will convert discarded bycatch of striped bass to landings.

 

The argument that opening a striped bass fishery in the EEZ will allow regulatory discards to be retained and landed is probably the most appealing of all those put forward by ASMFC. However, an examination of the nature of the discards, and the implications of retaining such discards as landings, quickly make it clear that any such appeal is largely superficial, and that the argument does not justify the opening of a striped bass fishery in the EEZ.

 

Recreational discards are the most easily addressed. Anglers, like commercial fishers, are regulated by some combination of size limits, bag limits, seasons and, in the case of striped bass, the EEZ closure. Few would suggest that size, bag or seasonal restrictions should be abandoned in order to “convert discarded bycatch of striped bass to landings”, since it is clear that the benefits of such measures outweigh any discard mortality. That being the case, it is hard to make a logical case for treating the EEZ closure any differently than any other constraint on harvest. This is particularly true in view of the fact that incidentally-caught striped bass are a relatively small proportion of all species encountered in the EEZ, and that all but 8% of such incidentally-caught striped bass are likely to survive.[22] Given the important role the EEZ closure plays in maintaining the integrity of state management measures, and the tiny number of striped bass discarded dead to anglers in the EEZ, recreational bycatch provides no justification for opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing.

 

The argument against permitting commercial retention of striped bass caught in the EEZ is similar to that which counter’s ASMFC’s second point, above. The commercial quota will be landed whether or not the EEZ is opened to striped bass fishing. Thus, retaining striped bass as bycatch in the EEZ will only result in other bass, taken in trawls, pound nets or gill nets in state waters, being discarded once the quota is filled, to the detriment of inshore anglers who once depended on such harvest. In addition, opening the EEZ could negate state gear restrictions, resulting in the creation of directed trawl fisheries that could produce even greater levels of dead discards.

 

When all factors are considered, and whether recreational or commercial fisheries are involved, the bycatch argument does not justify opening the EEZ.

 

(4) Because of management measures implemented since 1990, the striped bass population has recovered to a point where further examination of whether this fishery should occur in the EEZ is appropriate. There are expectations among a number of fishing industry stakeholders that their past sacrifices would result in future opportunities to harvest striped bass, and therefore, there are potential credibility issues.

 

Of all the arguments that ASMFC put forward in support of opening the EEZ, this is perhaps the weakest. As noted above in Section I-D, the Technical Committee has calculated that overall F exceeded Ftarget in 2002 by more than 15%, which certainly indicates that recreational fishers are having a more than adequate opportunity to harvest striped bass. In addition, Amendment 6 has increased the coastal commercial harvest to equal the average annual harvest of the 1972-1979 base years.[23] Thus, it is difficult to understand how any rational user of the resource could expect “further opportunities to harvest striped bass”, or how current harvest levels militate in favor of opening the striped bass fishery in the EEZ.

 

(5) The recommendations to open the EEZ is part of Amendment 6 which incorporates new management standards to ensure stock conservation including targets and thresholds for both mortality and spawning stock biomass. Fishing mortality is currently below the target level, and spawning stock biomass is 1.5 times the target level.

 

According to the latest Technical Committee calculations, the above statement is no longer accurate, as F now exceeds Ftarget by more than 15%. Thus, it cannot provide justification for opening the striped bass fishery in the EEZ.

 

(6) Amendment 6 includes monitoring requirements and triggers that will allow the Commission to respond quickly to increased mortality.

 

While Amendment 6 certainly does include both monitoring requirements and triggers, whether the Commission will respond “quickly” to increased mortality is certainly open to debate.

 

Such monitoring requirements and triggers are as follows

 

1. If the Management Board determines that the fishing mortality threshold is exceeded in any year, the Board must adjust the striped bass management program to reduce the fishing mortality rate to a level that is at or below the target within one year.

 

2. If the Management Board determines that the biomass has fallen below the threshold in any given year, the Board must adjust the striped bass management program to rebuild the biomass to the target level within the timeframe established in [Amendment 6].

 

3. If the Management Board determines that the fishing mortality target is exceeded in two consecutive years and the female spawning stock biomass falls below the target within either of those years, the Management Board must adjust the striped bass management program to reduce the fishing mortality rate to a level that is at or below the target within one year.

 

4. If the Management Board determines that the biomass has fallen below the target for two consecutive years and the fishing mortality rate exceeds the target in either of those years, the Management Board must adjust the striped bass management program to rebuild the biomass to the target level within the timeframe established in [Amendment 6].

 

5. The Management Board shall annually examine trends in all required Juvenile Abundance Index surveys. If any JAI shows recruitment failure (i.e., JAI is lower than all other values in the dataset) for three consecutive years, than the Management Board will review the cause of the recruitment failure (e.g., fishing mortality, environmental conditions, disease etc.) and determine the appropriate management action. The Management Board shall be the final arbiter in all management decisions.[24]

 

A review of the above quickly reveals that ASMFC’s definition of “quickly” may be somewhat broader than that of the average citizen. The annual stock assessment, from which fishing mortality and biomass would be calculated, is not generally available until about one year after the close of the assessment period (e.g., the 2002 assessment was completed in late November 2003). Thus, a year passes before the Board is even formally notified of a problem, and after that they have additional time to act. For example, in even the most severe circumstances—when overfishing is clearly occurring or the stock has become overfished and depleted in size—described in the above triggers 1 and 2, the Board has another year to end overfishing, and fully ten more years to rebuild the spawning stock biomass.[25]

 

As triggers 3 and 4 demonstrate, the mere violation of Ftarget, as has already occurred in 2002, or a drop in spawning stock biomass, need never trigger remedial action. Thus, so long as neither the fishing mortality nor biomess thresholds is violated, and consecutive violations of one target is not accompanied by any violation of the other, harvest at levels that fail to ensure the adequate protection of the spawning potential of the striped bass population may be perpetuated. Consecutive spawning failures, identical to those which presaged the population collapse of the 1970s and 1980s, would, pursuant to trigger 5, only be grounds for investigation after three years have elapsed, and might never be a spur to action.

 

Given the generous timeframes for remedial action provided by Amendment 6, any argument that the Board will respond “quickly” to increased mortality is unconvincing. Given what one must assume are the intentionally liberal standards of triggers 3, 4 and 5, it would be difficult to argue that the Board wishes to respond at all.

 

(7) The bulk of the public comment (greater than 75%) received in opposition during the Amendment 6 process cited expansion of the commercial fishery as rationale not to open the EEZ. The Commission believes the rationale is incorrect because the commercial fishery is controlled by a hard quota.

 

ASMFC’s final argument in favor of opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing is really no argument at all. While CCA NY recognizes that ASMFC does have an obligation to be responsive to the wishes of the public, at least so long as conservation efforts are not impeded thereby, and that the vast majority of the public comment opposed opening the EEZ, the fact that ASMFC disagrees with a common theme in the public’s comments is not a reason to take an affirmative action that the public opposes. In the last analysis, striped bass are a public resource, and the public’s views on their management, so long as they are not inconsistent with conservation imperatives, should be given substantial weight.

 

Even if it is assumed that the public is in error about the impact of an EEZ opening on commercial harvest, what NMFS must recognize, and take steps to avoid, is the fact that opening the EEZ could result in a substantial increase in the number of fish harvested recreationally. The key word in this argument is not “commercial” or “recreational”, it is “harvest” and, as demonstrated throughout this document, there is little doubt that opening the EEZ will increase fishing mortality, which is already in excess of target. The fact that too many more fish will die if the EEZ is opened is significant. Who kills them is not.

 

III

CONCLUSION

 

There are no compelling reasons that militate in favor of opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing. Yes, if it is opened, a few fishers in a few areas will have greater access to the striped bass resource, and might be able to substantially increase their catch. However, since the commercial quota can be attained without resorting to fishing in the EEZ, and since anglers have contributed to an F that is already in excess of Ftarget, an EEZ opening is not necessary to fully utilize the striped bass resource, and any increase in exploitation that an EEZ opening might permit in one area of the coast will have to be balanced by reduced harvest elsewhere.

 

Furthermore, the Act specifies that NMFS may only issue regulations opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing if such regulations were in compliance with the national standards embodied in the Magnuson Act, ensured the effectiveness of state laws and regulations regarding the management of striped bass and further ensured the long-term conservation of the Atlantic striped bass population. Since, as demonstrated above, it is impossible to promulgate regulations meeting the requirements of the Act, the striped bass fishery in the EEZ must remain closed. Any regulation that purported to do otherwise would, under the terms of the Act, be illegal, and vulnerable to any court challenge that might be mounted by an interested party.

 

 

Thank you for considering our views on this matter.

 

 

 

                                                                        Yours Truly,

 

 

 

                                                                        Charles A. Witek, III

                                                                        Chairman, Fisheries Committee



[1] 16 U.S.C. 1851 note

[2] Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass, February 2003, p. 21

[3] Ibid, p. 31

[4] Ibid, p. 32

[5] Ibid, p. 13

[6] Personal communication from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics and Economics Division.

[7] Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, p. 2

[8] http://mepadata.env.state.ma.us/clams/sql/rec_regs_table.htm

[9] Personal communication from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Striped Bass Technical Committee

[10] Personal communication from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics and Economics Division.

[11] Smaller but still real increases in harvest might also be predicted for Virginia and North Carolina, where wintering-over striped bass are likely to be targeted in the EEZ, although in far lower numbers due to prevailing weather conditions and a less ardent striped bass angling community.

[12] S. Rept. No. 558, 100th Cong. 2nd Sess. 3 (1988), reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N. 3990, 3992

[13] Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, p. 39

[14] Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia

[15] “It is unlawful for any person to fish for or take striped bass in the waters of the state, except for personal use.” Code Me. R. Sec. 42.02

[16] “No person shall sell, exchange or offer for sale or exchange any striped bass taken from the waters of this state…” Conn. Agencies Regs. Sec. 26-159a-2(c)

[17] Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, p. 32

[18] Ibid, p. 21

[19] 68 F.R. 202, October 20, 2002, p. 59907

[20] Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, p. 2

[21] Date generated from a search on the website http://www.st.nmfs.gov/st1/commercial/landings/gear_landings.html using “2002” for the year, “Bass, striped” as the species, “Atlantic” as the state and “All gear individually” as the gear type

[22] Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, p. 30

[23] Ibid., p. 32

[24] Ibid., p. 31

[25] Ibid., p. 22

 

 

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CCA NY Donates Night Vision Scope to DEC Division of Law Enforcement
CCA NY determined to fight illegal harvest 3/4/07 (Full Story)

Coastal Conservation Association Receives IGFA Conservation Award
Award presented at January banquet in Palm Beach, FL 3/4/07 (Full Story)

Reauthorized Magnuson Act Freedom to Fish language included in new bill 12/21/06 (Full Story)

Summer Flounder TAL position 11/22/06 (Full Letter)

CCA member named Field & Stream's first "Hero of Conservation"
Award presented at cocktail reception at magazine's Manhattan offices (Full Story)

CCA NY Summer '06 Newsletter (Download)
available in PDF format

Conservationists Call for Positive Resolution to Summer Flounder Problem Final measures must preserve flounder recovery without causing unneeded hardship to public (Full Story)

Federal waters to remain closed to striped bass fishing
10-year fight ends in conservation victory (Full Story)

CCA NY opposes opening Federal waters to striped bass fishing
Comments sent to NOAA Fisheries. (Full Story)

Corps of Engineers Beach Alteration Defeated
$98 million plan to bury Long Beach shorefront under dredged sand rejected by City Council (Full Story)

CCA NY Policy on Blue Crab and Diamondback Terrapin (Full Story)

Summer Flounder
CCA NY calls for changes in management (Full Story)

Data Boycott Counterproductive to Healthy Marine Resources
The CCA announced it remains committed to working with the National Research Council.
(Full Story)

CCA New York Submits Freedom of Information Demand relating to striped bass, bluefishregulations. (Full Story)

Common Sense Prevails in White Marlin Management
Agreement recognizes the necessity of an international solution for the recovery of the species. (Full Story)

CCA Intervenes to Protect Conservation Victory preventing a lawsuit filed by the Ocean Conservancy from unraveling Gulf of Mexico compromise. (Full Story)

An Anglers Guide to Amendment 1 to the Winter Flounder Fishery Management Plan. What you need to do! (Full Story)

 

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