In February at the 2012 ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board Meeting, the Board moved to incorporate recommendations by the Interstate Watershed Task Force (IWTF) and ASMFC Law Enforcement Committee (LEC) on reducing illegal commercial harvest of striped bass.
It was the unanimous recommendation of the IWTF and the LEC that all fish harvested for sale be required to be tagged immediately upon possession. The LEC presented the persuasive argument that the longer the fish remain untagged, the harder it is to enforce harvesting rules and the easier it is for illegal activity to occur.
Unfortunately the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries is proposing that in Massachusetts commercially caught stripers need not be tagged when harvested but later when they are sold. Doing so will effectively undermine the intent of the tagging program as outlined by the Law Enforcement Committee of the ASMFC. The purpose of tagging at capture is for law enforcement to quickly determine harvesting compliance, to avoid tag sharing and high grading and to reduce the under-reporting of both fish and weights.
If the Law Enforcement Committee recommendations were adopted a commercial fisherman in possession of a fish that is not tagged would be breaking the law. The proposal by the MDMF to not have to tag a commercially harvested fish until it is sold - if it is ever sold - is an open invitation to circumvent harvesting rules and contradicts the intent and goals of the ASMFC recommendations.
This is an outrage that we must do our best to correct. There are two public hearings coming up soon that will give each of us (you) an opportunity to express our (your) feelings on this proposed rule change. Please attend the hearing nearest you and speak up in favor of tagging at point of capture. Stripers Forever will submit organizational testimony. Each of you should write/speak as an individual, interested party.
MDMF Public Hearings
Feb.11, 2014 - 6 PM
Plymouth Harbor Radisson
180 Water Street
Feb. 12, 2014 - 6 PM
Gloucester High School Auditorium
32 Leslie O. Johnson Road
If you can't get to a meeting then please email Jared Silva and ask the MDMF to follow the ASMFC tagging recommendations. Insist that commercially caught stripers be tagged immediately when they are caught.