In response to declines in commercial striped bass harvest and the perceived decline in production of juvenile striped bass in the late 1970's, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) prepared a coastwide management plan for striped bass along the Atlantic Coast, in 1981. Congress passed legislation, the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act, in 1984 and 1988, with amendments in 1986, and 1991, enabling Federal imposition of a moratorium on striped bass fishing in states which failed to comply with the ASMFC Fishery Management Plan. Coastal states have the principal management jurisdiction over Atlantic striped bass, through the ASMFC plan. However, the Act directs the Secretary of Commerce to promulgate regulations on striped bass fishing in the EEZ (federal waters). Regulations are to ensure the effectiveness of state regulations or a Federal moratorium on striped bass fishing within the coastal waters of a state will be imposed.
The Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 1851 note; Pub. L. 98-613, as amended) authorizes the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior to assist in the conservation and management of the Atlantic striped bass. To accomplish this goal, the Secretaries may use the resources of any other Federal agency or department, or any coastal State. Regulations for management of the Atlantic striped bass fishery in Federal exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters are published in 50 C.F.R. Part 656.
Upon certification by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission that a coastal State is not in compliance with the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Striped Bass, the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior are required to implement a moratorium on fishing for Atlantic striped bass in the coastal waters of that State, pending a review. During the period of the moratorium, it is illegal to fish within the moratorium area for Atlantic striped bass. This includes failing to return to the water any Atlantic striped bass taken incidentally from the moratorium area, regardless of physical condition. The Act allows for civil penalties and/or forfeitures for violation of the moratorium or any regulations promulgated pursuant to this Act. This provision was used in 1987 for New Jersey and the District of Columbia and again in 1988 for New Jersey when they were notified that a moratorium on fishing might be instituted because they were not in compliance with the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Striped Bass. In each case, the moratorium was not implemented because their regulations were brought into compliance with the Plan. During 1990, however, New Jersey was again cited for being out of compliance and a moratorium was implemented for a few days in March until the State's fishing regulations were adequately revised. All States have been reported in compliance with the Striped Bass Plan since 1991.
To facilitate implementing the provisions of this Act, the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior conduct comprehensive annual surveys of Atlantic striped bass fisheries. Included in these surveys are, among other things, a compilation and assessment of the recreational and commercial landings of this species in coastal States. The results of this survey are published in the Federal Register annually. The most recent (1993 survey) was published February 17, 1995 (60 Federal Register 9324).
See also environmental laws of United States Fish and Wildlife Service
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