Stripers Forever members - from time to time we pass along reports on illegal catches that make the news. This report, in particular, illustrates the problems that commercial fishing creates for any accesible species, such as striped bass. Check out this link.
These folks were caught twice in a week: first for being over their annual quota and second for a 3-ton, yes that's right nearly 6,000 pound illegal catch! To add real insult to injury, the maximum fine for the second offence is $500 - just a tiny cost of doing business. We think jail would be a more appropriate punishment for these repeat offenders along with forfeiture of license and gear. Furthermore, the official calculation of illegally caught striped bass is zero against the commercial quota . That's right, zero. This ought to give you an inkling of why the real condition of the striped bass population is not reflected by the ASMFC stock assessment science. If you start out with faulty input, you end up with faulty results.
The remedy is to make striped bass a game fish and to end commercial fishing for them everywhere. We have said from the very start of SF, the legal commercial fishery simply facilitiates the illegal one. As long as there is a price on the head of stripers, the temptation to break the law to catch and sell them illegally will overwhelm any enforcement efforts.