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Washington, D.C. – July 27, 2006, Jim Donofrio, Executive Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), testified before the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Resources, on the conservation and management of Atlantic striped bass.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is considering a proposal to lift the harvest moratorium for striped bass harvest in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Mr. Donofrio urged Congress to keep the EEZ closed to striped bass harvest. The RFA believes that the closure of the EEZ is important for the long-term sustainability of the striped bass fishery and will protect the larger age structure of reproductive, female striped bass that inhabit the deeper waters of the EEZ. By lifting the harvest moratorium, both commercial and recreational fishing could quickly remove these larger fish, leading to a situation that initiated the near collapse in the 1980s.
Mr. Donofrio testified that the Atlantic striped bass fishery supports a vast and diverse economic infrastructure including party and charter boats, guide services, bait and tackle shops, sporting goods stores, boat sales and repairs, marine supply houses, gas docks, marinas, retail food stores, restaurants and hotels, as well as local manufacturers of fishing boats, tackle and gear.
“It is clear to me that Congressman Frank Pallone and Congressman Jim Saxton are strongly opposed to opening the EEZ for striped bass harvest. Furthermore, the importance of the relationship between healthy menhaden stocks and the striped bass nursery were also discussed and is apparent that the protection of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay is critical for the long-term sustainability and health of the striped bass resource. Menhaden play a vital ecological role in the health of the Chesapeake Bay as they serve as the primary forage food for striped bass in the bay,” states Donofrio.
Mr. Donofrio adds, “I applaud the House Committee for addressing this issue and commend Congressman Frank Pallone for requesting this hearing. I also appreciate the interest of Resources Subcommittee Chairman Wayne Gilchrist, Congressman Jim Saxton and other committee members who have been engaged in this issue.”
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