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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This was in the Delaware News Journal this morning.


Earlier this month, a Coast Guard helicopter flew out over the Atlantic Ocean just off Virginia Beach. Its mission: protecting striped bass.
The aircraft flew beyond the three-mile limit from shore where striped bass fishing is allowed and spotted a flotilla of fishing boats. When the skippers noticed the helicopter overhead, the reaction was swift and immediate.
"It looked like the boat races back to the three-mile limit," said Col. Rick Lauderman, chief of the Virginia Marine Police.
Striped bass are a conservation and fish management success story, coming back from the brink of near collapse in the 1980s.
But these days, the species may be a victim of its own success and also a victim of anglers -- both commercial and recreational -- who sometimes flout the rules in a quest for trophy fish. Lots of them.
What is happening to the south this winter could have significant consequences off Delaware's coast this spring and summer, when the fish head north to spawn.
There is enough concern that Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Executive Director John V. O'Shea -- at the request of member states -- this month asked the National Marine Fisheries to increase the civil penalties for illegal fishing for striped bass beyond the three-mile limit.
"This high concentration of aggregating fish in the ocean over wintering grounds off the Virginia Capes south to Cape Hatteras makes them especially vulnerable to harvest," O'Shea wrote. "Depending on their magnitude, unreported landing have the potential to jeopardize the status of the stock."
In 1982, the striped bass population was estimated at less than 9 million. Today it's believed to be around 70 million. In 2008, the harvest was 3 million, which was a 5 percent decrease from the year before. While the number of fish caught was down, the poundage was up, meaning the larger, more mature fish were taken.
Striped bass fishing is restricted to within three miles of the coast. Rules vary by state, but in Delaware's waters, the minimum size one may keep is 28 inches long.
O'Shea asked the Coast Guard to step up enforcement in the prohibited area known as the Exclusive Economic Zone. This is considered federal jurisdiction from the three-mile limit to 200 miles offshore. Federal fisheries agents have cooperative agreements with all states except North Carolina to enforce the ban in the EEZ. But even with state help, there are still anglers -- both commercial and recreational -- who cross the line.
"The commission continues to hear from party and charter boat captains, as well as private boat anglers, that numerous vessels are fishing for and retained striped bass in the EEZ, including exceeding the bag limit," he said.

The implications
The big stripers that winter off Virginia and North Carolina will begin to swim north as the water warms up.
About 75 percent will swim into Chesapeake Bay and lay eggs in the upper bay and in freshwater reaches of tributaries such as the Choptank, Nanticoke and Pocomoke rivers. An additional 14 percent will swim north to the Hudson River to spawn, and an estimated 11 percent will arrive in Delaware Bay, move north up the Delaware River and begin to spawn when they reach Cherry Island flats off Wilmington.
Scientists believe that many of these big, offshore fish that winter to the south are mature females -- the very fish that will ensure the future stability of the population.
"There is a significant conservation benefit to keeping the EEZ closed," said John DePersenaire, fisheries policy and science researcher with the Recreational Fishing Alliance, a national advocacy group based in New Jersey. "It's not like you see small fish out there."
The EEZ has been closed to striper fishing since 1999, but beginning in 2003, pressure built to reopen it and it may be building again. On the Virginia Beach-based Virginia Fishing Center's Web site, a poll asks anglers whether they would support extending the territorial limit of Virginia's waters 12 miles offshore -- far enough out most years to legally take advantage of these big stripers.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration looked into reopening the area but in 2006 chose not to proceed with its review.
DePersenaire said a draft environmental-impact statement pointed to major concerns that opening the EEZ would significantly increase fish mortality -- possibly beyond target levels for sustainability of the species. Among the concerns is that with a big concentration of fish in one area, they become extremely vulnerable to commercial net fishing gear, he said.
Because the area beyond the three-mile limit is a protected zone for striped bass, anglers can't catch and release the fish, nor can they possess a striper, even if they caught it in legal waters.

Where the fish go
Delaware fisheries biologists have been tagging spawning fish for years, and anglers who catch or catch and release one of these tagged fishes -- more than 6,000 have been tagged over the years -- get a prize if they report the details of their catch.
"The number of releases have gone up," said state fisheries biologist Matt Fisher. "That's a change in the attitude of the angler."
Most of the Delaware-tagged fish that are caught are caught in Maryland or Massachusetts.
Like most fish stocks, so much depends on the strength of each individual year class.
In 2004, the spawn produced a strong year class, and those fish are now reaching the legal, minimum-size limit, Fisher said. "They are 26-, 28-, 30-inch fish now."
The 2009 class was strong, too. So in 2013, there should be another large group of fish coming into keeper-size range.
There are other concerns. In the Chesapeake, some scientists and environmental organizations worry that stripers aren't as big and healthy as fish that move offshore and along the coast. The fear is that populations of a key prey fish at the bottom of the food chain -- the Atlantic menhaden -- aren't large enough to support the larger striper population in Chesapeake Bay.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission recently continued a commercial catch cap on the fishery through 2013 to help those stocks grow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This is the rest of the article.



Decline and recovery
In the early 1970s, stripers -- also called rockfish -- were one of the most important commercial and recreational fishes in Chesapeake Bay. In 1973, commercial fishermen landed 14.7 million pounds coast-wide. The following year, there was a sharp decline, and 10 years later, the harvest was down to 1.7 million pounds.
Regulators concluded overfishing was a key reason for the population bust. They also acknowledged other problems: fluctuating water temperatures in the spawning grounds, low dissolved oxygen in deep water habitats of Chesapeake Bay, acidity and chemical contamination, and habitat and water quality degradation from runoff and wastewater discharges.
Congress passed the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act in 1984, and in 1985, Delaware and Maryland imposed a fishing moratorium that didn't end until 1989.
When the fishery reopened, managers were cautious and allowed limited catches, but the population continued to rise. By 1995, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission concluded that the fishery was restored.
Fast-forward to January. Inshore fishing had been brisk along the Outer Banks and Virginia, and then the water temperature dropped, bait fish moved farther offshore and the stripers moved with them.
Capt. Ken Zwirko, who runs striper charters from New England south to North Carolina -- following the fish with the season -- said once the fish moved offshore, there was no sense in fishing along the Virginia or Carolina coasts.
But not all captains felt that way.
Zwirko said he believes "it's the only place where the fish are given a break" and it should be off-limits. "I think it's a big problem ... because it's the whole concentration of the biomass" in one area.
For anglers, "it's so easy to find the fish," he said.
They look for birds working the schools of fish, and the stripers are usually there feeding.
Zwirko said that for enforcement agents, it's difficult to get a grip on violators in the EEZ because it's "just such a vast area."
On one striper fishing message board this week, there was this anonymous account from a morning of fishing off Virginia Beach: "We were celebrating our catches. ... Suddenly we were in a situation in which the mate and captain were telling us that we were way out past the 3-miles limit. ... Their spotters notified them that the marine police were on the way out. ... We watched in disbelief as the mate gutted out our fish and threw them overboard. ... We were sickened by the entire experience."
That scenario is all too common, Lauderman said.
Anglers use everything from spotters to cell and satellite phones to keep tabs on the whereabouts of enforcement officers, Lauderman said. They use a code.
"They call us a gray boat," he said. The Coast Guard is an orange boat.
"It's almost like a game of chess," he said.
When they see marine police approaching, they'll turn and head directly toward the marine police vessel -- dumping fish off the stern of the boat along the way, he said.
Some boats are rigged with a 55-gallon garbage can on the stern. As they catch fish, they shove them headfirst into the garbage can.
"As we approach, they are actually ready to dump the fish," he said.
Last week, a Coast Guard patrol boat spotted a commercial trawler in the EEZ and boarded it to look for safety and fishing violations.
Once on board, they discovered a haul of 150 striped bass.
The vessel, the 79.2-foot Lady Samaira out of North Carolina, was directed back to port, where National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration fisheries agents were waiting.
Agents suspect some of the fish were thrown overboard in passage because they recovered 100 fish with a weight of nearly 3,000 pounds.
NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement is investigating.
Here in Delaware, illegal striper fishing hasn't been a problem this winter.
The water is just too cold right now, said Delaware Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Chief James Graybeal. In 2007 and 2008, there were a few arrests off Delaware's waters in the EEZ, he said.
An angler with a few fish likely will be fined $100 per fish. But in the case with 10 or more fish, fines can rise to thousands of dollars per fish, Lauderman said.
"It is a federal violation," he said.
For anglers, even those on a charter boat, "it's your responsibility to know" where you are fishing, he said.
 

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the laws are there to protect the fish and they are good laws. Now all we need is for more enforcement or a better means of enforcement. Make the penalties stiffer, confication of boats, loss of Capt's license and heavier fines for the fishermen themselves, make them steep enough that they would not even consider fishing outside the 3 mile limit
 

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Make stripers a game fish. Open the eez and shut the commerical guys out! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
the laws are there to protect the fish and they are good laws. Now all we need is for more enforcement or a better means of enforcement. Make the penalties stiffer, confication of boats, loss of Capt's license and heavier fines for the fishermen themselves, make them steep enough that they would not even consider fishing outside the 3 mile limit

Enforcement will always be an issue and tougher penalties will help when caught. I hear about commercial boats that continue to fish after they are fined because the fine is small and it is worth the risk.
 

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it happens off the jersey 3 mile limit also,but they are fishing for blues:rolleyes: so i am told
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Make stripers a game fish. Open the eez and shut the commerical guys out! :)

I am not sure why this fish has the 3 mile limit and is the only fish I am aware of that does. I do not mind the commercials as long as the regs are fair for everyone (that's a entirely different conversation).
 

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I am not sure why this fish has the 3 mile limit and is the only fish I am aware of that does. I do not mind the commercials as long as the regs are fair for everyone (that's a entirely different conversation).
Make it a game fish! I mind the commericals, especially down south when someone can produce fake tags for stripers to sell... Buy your bonus tags!:)
 

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Some information from another site plus my thoughts

It is not only fishing out beyond 3 miles but culling the stripers to get the biggest ones that bothers me so much. Nothing new here and if you look at various fishing sites down off NC you will see pictures that are sickening to me at least. But let's keep our eyes open as the same thing is done in our local waters up north as you can see a whole armada offshore illegally for stripers on any given day in the fall. The only difference is up north the fish are all not the big female spawners that are targeted all winter down south. Here is some information from one of the sites about fishing for stripers down that way.

NC poached rockfish....IS ANYONE SURPRISED???
I'M SURE NOT!!

READ THE ARTICLE
3,000LBS OF STRIPED BASS POACHED

WISH THERE WAS MORE INFO

CAPTS NAME
BOAT OWNERS NAME
PORT OF CALL

Joint federal effort nets large haul of illegal striped bass
OREGON INLET, N.C. - Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration personnel combined efforts Tuesday to stop illegal striped bass fishing off Oregon Inlet and found one vessel with illegally caught fish that had more than 2,900 pounds of fish aboard.

The economic pressures being felt nationwide and the meteorological conditions driving the striped bass population farther off shore into warmer waters have set the stage for a situation that may entice fishermen to break the law, as evidenced by recent reports from members of the maritime community.

However, in an effort to ensure the longevity of the striped bass population and maintain a level playing field for all fishermen, federal authorities are taking action. Tuesday, in response to multiple reports of commercial and recreational striped bass fishing within the Exclusive Economic Zone, the Coast Guard and NOAA conducted a joint effort to curtail this illegal activity.

Fishing for striped bass is permitted within State waters, but catching or possessing striped bass outside three nautical miles from shore is a violation of federal regulations. In an effort to catch fishermen participating in this illegal activity, the Coast Guard mounted a patrol within known fishing grounds off Oregon Inlet using Station Oregon Inlet’s small boats with the assistance of additional boarding team personnel from Station Hatteras Inlet.

One of the boarding teams sighted the fishing vessel Lady Samaira as it was heading back into port. It was within the Exclusive Economic Zone when the team boarded the vessel to ensure compliance with both fishery and vessel safety regulations. Their investigation revealed more than 150 striped bass aboard the vessel. The boarding team documented their findings and relayed all pertinent information to NOAA for further guidance as they are the regulatory agency for this type of violation. As a result of the boarding team’s findings, NOAA asked the Coast Guard to direct the Lady Samaira to port where NOAA agents met the vessel. When the vessel moored in North Carolina there were less fish aboard, approximately 100 striped bass. The fish, weighing in at almost 3,000 pounds, were abandoned by the vessel’s captain to the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement.

Typically, if less than 10 illegal fish are discovered, in addition to having to abandon their catch the master is levied a $100 fine per fish and the matter is closed. A violation of this magnitude, though, far exceeds the threshold whereby these simple fines can be levied. The NOAA OLE investigation continues, and the final action to be taken against the master and/or vessel has yet to be determined.

This case, while significant, is just one example of illegal striped bass fishing activity recently interdicted by federal, state, and local authorities. Operations driving additional enforcement efforts continue in the interest of maintaining the viability of the striped bass fish stocks and also supporting legitimate fishermen operating within the law.

"Times are tough for many in today’s world, but we must ensure we’re working together and within existing regulations in order to be fair for all," said Tim Brown, Coast Guard 5th District deputy chief of enforcement

I would like to see the 3 miles limit done away with at least up off our shores and make them a game fish as mentioned. We do not get the heavy concentration of big female spawners like they do in the warm water offshore of Northern NC and Southern VA in the winter. I never never fish beyond 3 miles and it does hurt our fall striper charter business and has for number of years and that is the part I do not like. We need to have a level playing field for all involved or start enforcing the rules where it really hurts to get caught with a illegal striper.
 

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This was in the Delaware News Journal this morning.

O'Shea asked the Coast Guard to step up enforcement in the prohibited area known as the Exclusive Economic Zone. This is considered federal jurisdiction from the three-mile limit to 200 miles offshore. Federal fisheries agents have cooperative agreements with all states except North Carolina to enforce the ban in the EEZ. But even with state help, there are still anglers -- both commercial and recreational -- who cross the line.
kinda odd NC wouldnt cooperate.:huh:

i dont mind catch and release outside 3mile in NJ but those down south guys gotta man up and do more C and R and make sure their reviveing the fish before release.

i think there should be a boat repo law in effect if their caught keeping fish outside 3mile. and they should be sending some undercovers down there on these charters.... **** even philly used to hire at least a dozen undercovers to work at a time and harrass/bust skateboarders in love park... why the hell cant the fed's do it to the charters???
 

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Back in the 80's Va did an excellent job of striped bass regulatory oversight. I am surprised they have been slow to respond
 

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I've got to say it again

Let's regulate stripers by season, bag limit and size limit. There is no reason they shouldn't be a recreational fish,

I here the deer population and duck population is up and there are no wild fowl or venison in my supermarket lets throw away 200 years of management on the dry land species.

If we are catching too many breeders impliment a strict slot limit. Look at the Redfish success. but why penalize the anglers who live and fish where the stripers happen to go offshore. Put a 3 mile limit on the Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound and a lot more fishermen would be upset.

North of Barnegat inlet thru New England the deep water is right off the beach and there is no need to go offshore to catch all you want. The commercial fishery up there is very specific for big fish, it is hook and line but from what I here the pin hookers are devistating.
 

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North of Barnegat inlet thru New England the deep water is right off the beach and there is no need to go offshore to catch all you want. The commercial fishery up there is very specific for big fish, it is hook and line but from what I here the pin hookers are devistating.[/quote]

Where do you get your misinformation from???? The bulk of the Mass quota is 1.1 million pounds, and comes from Cape Cod... The average size fish there is 15 - 17lbs. Whats the difference with mass Rod and reel commercial quota given to commercial fishermen, and NJ on the other hand, which is masked as a gamefish state, has a commercial quota of 360,000lbs and gives it to rec guys for 2 bucks a tag, (Which many catch, 5, 10, 15 fish+ on 1 tag)?
If you can catch all you want up there because you have deep water , (Incorrect anyway), what is the problem????

The Bulk of the Fish in New england areOFFSHORE, beyond 3 miles by the way...

You are shifting the Blame to fishermen that are fishing legally from fishermen that are clearly Poaching..... Far More than 1.1 Million Pounds of Large striped are illegally poached in the EEZ Jan thru March in VA and NC....
 

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Cowhunter, If you think the SJ beaches are cut the same as North jersey, then your waaaay off. I wanna see you plug the beaches of SJ.(most, not all) You can't, its to shallow. Go 1/2 mile off IBSP, and check your water depth. Go a 1/2 mile off Ocean city. Look at the difference. Big difference. You think that the North doesn't get a better run of big fish along the beach? seriously?
Have you ever fished a beach south of LBI? Let me save you the trouble, and tell you to not waste your gas. Sure, you can get some fish, but it DOES NOT COMPARE to fishing the beach from LBI north.
 

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Cowhunter, If you think the SJ beaches are cut the same as North jersey, then your waaaay off. I wanna see you plug the beaches of SJ.(most, not all) You can't, its to shallow. Go 1/2 mile off IBSP, and check your water depth. Go a 1/2 mile off Ocean city. Look at the difference. Big difference. You think that the North doesn't get a better run of big fish along the beach? seriously?
Have you ever fished a beach south of LBI? Let me save you the trouble, and tell you to not waste your gas. Sure, you can get some fish, but it DOES NOT COMPARE to fishing the beach from LBI north.
I never said the beaches in south Jersey are cut the same as the northern NJ beaches, and I really wasnt comparing just the surf. Here in Northern NJ the outgoing tide, water running out of Raritan bay has an impact along with temp breaks in the spring..... Regardless, Those fish are running offshore up and down the coast from NC up to Maine and thats a fact. They need big bodies of bait to sustain them and it happens to be offshore. What happened to the Beach Runs down in NC in the winter, the bait is offshore as are the fish???? Cause let me tell you the "Generic" beaches in NC and VA are similiar to South Jersey with shallower offshore waters vs New England... There is a reason for those big bodies of fish to come inshore like they used to on the Cape in the 80's and 90's or Block Island in the 80's, The Squid runs in May / June off Block, Elizabeth Islands, and the vineyard the past few years, each had similiar variables bait being the biggest. Take into consideration Weather patterns, water temps, and BAIT. Im not talking plugging a few bass off the beach, Im talking getting the big slams on the beach like the boaters do of VA and NC in the winter, 1000 lb nights... There are beach runs that have experienced that and still do if the timing is correct. You cant even compare to a little pick. To answer youre question, Yes, I used to chase those fish in the NJ southern beaches in the 90's, and I have fished the surf for striped bass as far as Hatteras, NC... I do miss those days, times change.... The fishing offshore in South Jersey is Just as good as north jersey and with less pressure, Its a matter of timing.........

This is all a different topic though.... The problem agian is the disregard, or poaching of the EEZ in the south......
 

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How many stripers do we really need? I keep 3-4 bass a year, and would gladly trade the ones I keep for some in the 18"-24" variety. How many of the guys out there hammering cow after cow after cow are charter guys? I understand everyone needs to make a living, and i'm not faulting charter guys, but maybe discouraging customers from keeping their limit of cows would be wise. Are these guys paying for the charter just because they want to eat bass? I doubt it, because wegmans is much cheaper than booking a trip. Its all about smart conservation. In Florida the guides preach catch and release. Do you guys think bass is any tastier than snook??? I've eaten both, and its not. Yet people down there pay good money to catch and release. I guess that wouldn't bode well for pictures and promoting their charter business.
 

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Ive been saying that as a charter captain, we dont need more than one fish per man. 1 20,30,40lb fish is alot of meat. To be honest, most of my clients want to know how many fish they can keep, I think I have only one group that does catch and release and that is it... I doubt that if they dropped the limit to one fish state to state it would effect the charter industry one bit...People want to catch the fish and eat fresh fish. I sell fish up in Mass, and I can say, that striped bass along with other fish, are several days old once they get to the consumer, big difference as opposed to fresh. I myself only kill what I will eat that or the next day, but thats just me.....
As far as Snook goes, its different... Where did you ever see snook on the menues anywhere or in stores??? Striped bass get shipped everywhere, there is a demand.. Wegmans in NJ carries Farm raised or hybrid striped bass.. You ever see the chesapeke bay in November and december, anglers from several states targeting striped bass and keeping their limits. You go there Jan 1 when they shut the bay down and its a ghost town, maybe 1 boat at the ramp if that... People catch and release keeper tog, fluke, scup, sea bass, ling, cod - The majority dont?? Striped bass is still a fish...
 
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