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Jun 10, 2016 11:45 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

House Passes Bill To Open Waters Off Montauk To Striped Bass Fishing

Jun 14, 2016 11:20 AM

The U.S. House of Representatives this week unanimously approved a bill that would open waters between Montauk Point and Block Island to striped bass fishing.

If adopted into law, the bill, which was sponsored by U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, will open what is known as the Block Island Sound “transit zone” to striper fishing.

The zone comprises all the waters of Block Island Sound that lie more than three miles from the shores of Montauk, mainland Rhode Island and Block Island, RI. Those waters, about 155 square miles, are currently off limits to striped bass fishermen because striped bass may not be harvested in federal waters, which start three miles from the shore in any coastal state.

Recreational and charter boat fishermen from Montauk, Rhode Island and Connecticut have long argued that the intention of the original closure of federal waters to striped bass fishing did not justify barring fishermen from what are effectively inshore waters in Block Island Sound just because they are more than three miles from land.

Fisheries conservationists have, alternately, argued that keeping the area off limits to fishing would help reduce mortality to the slumping striped bass stock.

In 2008 the captain of the Montauk party boat Viking Starship was charged with violating the closure of striper fishing in federal waters after agents from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration recorded the boat fishing in the transit zone.

A similar bill to the one passed this week was introduced by Congressman Zeldin’s predecessor, Tim Bishop, but never won enough support to come to a vote of the full House.

“Long Island fishermen are faced with many issues; one of the most pressing is the urgent need to clarify the federal regulations regarding striped bass fishing in the small area of federally controlled waters between Montauk Point and Block Island,” Congressman Zeldin said in a statement on Thursday. “Fishermen are desperately pleading for common sense relief and the EEZ Transit Zone Clarification Act is just one way that Congress can help. I am excited to see this bill pass the House with such strong bipartisan support.”

The Senate will still have to approve its own version of the bill and it will have to be signed by President Barack Obama before it becomes law, but a spokesman for Mr. Zeldin said that considering the unanimous vote in the House, support from other halls of government is also expected.

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Good news!
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Jun 10, 16 3:04 PM
bad news for striped bass. I wish this wasn't passed
By ArturoBandini (29), on Jun 12, 16 12:55 PM