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State to Consider Ban on Commercial Striped Bass Fishing

A hearing on whether to ban commercial striped bass fishing in Massachusetts will take place on February 28.

An article on the Cape Cod Times website reported that, “The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture will hold a hearing at 11 am Feb. 28 at the Statehouse in Boston on whether to ban commercial fishing of striped bass in Massachusetts and cut back recreational fishing by 50 percent.”

Behind this and two other bass fishery related bills is the non-profit, internet based Stripers Forever. The Stripers Forever website states that Stripers Forever, “seeks game fish status for wild striped bass on the Atlantic Coast in order to significantly reduce striper mortality, to provide optimum and sustainable public fishing opportunities for anglers from Maine to North Carolina."

Stripers Forever pushed unsuccessfully for a commercial ban in 2010. According to the Cape Cod Times, “Game fishermen like (Dean Clark, co-chairman of Stripers Forever) say the ban would help what they say is a threatened striped bass population. They argue that the bass are being overfished by commercial boats.”

However, this is widely disputed by commercial fishermen who say that the striped bass population is well managed and healthy. State Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown is opposed to the bill saying the striped bass population is healthy and the commercial catch is an important chunk of fishermen incomes.

Last year, the commercial striped bass season lasted only 29 days from its start date of July 12 and was 10 days shorter than the season before. Those opposed to the ban point to the short season as proof that there are plenty of striped bass in the sea.

The Cape Cod Times reported, “The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has classified striped bass as not over-fished and not in danger of becoming over-fished based on an estimate of fertile female striped bass, Kate Taylor, fisheries management plan coordinator for striped bass at the commission, said.

“The estimate of the number of female striped bass able to reproduce — known as female spawning stock biomass — was about 30 million pounds above the target level of 80 million pounds in 2010, Taylor said. The number has not dipped below the target level since the mid-1990s, she said.”

Maine, Connecticut and New Hampshire have all passed laws banning the commercial fishing of striped bass.

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