Coast Guard cites striped bass poachers off N.C. coast

Lady Justice

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard boarded and cited several fishing vessels in violation of federal law including one vessel in possession of 58 illegally caught Atlantic striped bass Friday.

During their patrol the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Beluga, homeported in Norfolk, Va., detected and intercepted fishing vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zone in possession of Atlantic striped bass, which is a violation of federal law.

The economic pressures being felt nationwide and the meteorological conditions driving the striped bass population farther off shore into warmer waters have set the stage for a situation that may entice fishermen to break the law, as evidenced by recent reports from members of the maritime community.

However, in an effort to ensure the longevity of the striped bass population and maintain a level playing field for all fishermen, federal authorities are taking action. In response to multiple reports of commercial and recreational striped bass fishing within the Exclusive Economic Zone, the Coast Guard and NOAA have combined efforts to curtail this illegal activity.

Fishing for striped bass is permitted within state waters, but catching or possessing striped bass in the Exclusive Economic Zone, which begins three nautical miles from shore, is a violation of federal regulations.

The coordination between the Coast Guard Sector North Carolina, Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement and surface assets led to the detection of 58 Atlantic striped bass aboard a fishing vessel within the Exclusive Economic Zone, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Shawn Hoefling of Coast Guard Cutter Beluga. Boaters should be aware that the Coast Guard will continue to aggressively enforce laws and regulations concerning Atlantic striped bass.

The evidence packages for these citations will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service NOAA Office of General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation, who will determine if a formal Notice of Violation will be issued.

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