NOAA 99-R130
Contact: Miles Raizin


The National Marine Fisheries Service reminds recreational and commercial fishermen to release all Atlantic striped bass caught in federal waters between three and 200 miles offshore. The agency has recently received a number of reports that anglers may be landing striped bass taken from federal waters off Massachusetts.

Taking or retaining striped bass caught in federal waters is illegal under current federal rules meant to conserve the species. Also, it is illegal to possess striped bass on board a vessel in federal waters, with one exception in the Block Island Sound area of Rhode Island and Long Island, N.Y. This area falls north of a line connecting Montauk Light and Block Island Southeast Light and west of a line connecting Point Judith Light and Block Island Southeast Light. Within this area, possession of Atlantic striped bass is permitted, provided no fishing takes place from the vessel while in federal waters and the vessel is in continuous transit.

Striped bass are managed, coast-wide, based on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan. Federal waters remain closed to striped bass fishing to ensure the effectiveness of state regulations on fishing for striped bass within state waters and to achieve conservation and management goals for the striped bass resource.

Effective management measures during the late-1980s and early-1990s led ASMFC in 1995 to declare that the coast-wide stock of striped bass was restored from extremely low levels seen since the 1970s. Both recreational and commercial landings have increased through the 1990s, reflecting the health of the stock. Landings of striped bass totaled nearly six million pounds for commercial and about 16 million pounds for the recreational fisheries in 1997. However, at this time, there is concern that the stock may not be able to sustain further increases in effort and catch expected to result if fishing were allowed to resume in federal waters.