While South Jersey continues to see an incredible late-season run of striped bass, anglers are reminded not to chase those migrating fish outside of the 3-mile line. Last week, the United States Coast Guard issued violations on December 8th and 9th during two separate cases off Cape May due to the possession of Atlantic striped bass within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
A boat crew from Coast Guard Station Cape May discovered three Atlantic striped bass last Wednesday while boarding a pleasure craft approximately 8 miles off Cape May. A boarding team from the Virginia-based Coast Guard Cutter Dependable found five Atlantic striped bass last Tuesday while boarding a pleasure craft approximately 3-1/2 nautical miles off Cape May within the EEZ.
In each case, the Coast Guard issued an enforcement action report.
Coast Guard law enforcement crews conduct boardings on a routine basis throughout the Mid-Atlantic and place an emphasis on the protection of the Atlantic striped bass against commercial and recreational fishing within the EEZ.
More stringent regulations adopted in the 1980s were lifted in the mid-90s as stocks replenished; however, the prohibition of catching, fishing for or possessing Atlantic Striped Bass in the EEZ continues to be a federal offense.
"It is illegal to possess or target the Atlantic striped bass in federal waters, which begin three miles from shore," said Lt. Cmdr. Patricia Bennett, the deputy enforcement chief for the Fifth Coast Guard District in Portsmouth, Virginia.
"In state waters – waters less than three miles from the coast – each state has its own laws designed to protect stripers. Even though the Coast Guard does not enforce those state laws, if we find a violation at the state level, we may notify state authorities."