State House, Boston, MA: A legislative Joint Committee hearing was held Wednesday 11/06/2013 to hear testimony on H659 and H660 two Bills that Stripers Forever initiated. Many of our core members attended and testified very effectively on behalf of these Bills. Much of the discussion was focused on the H660 that would conserve some 24,000 or more large stripers by removing anglers with a history of low landings from the commercial fishery and retiring that quota for conservation. H659 would require that all striped bass taken commercially in MA waters be immediately tagged by the fisherman. This would go a long way to eliminating high-grading and transporting commercially caught striped bass so that they could be sold under the table. More information on Bills can be found by going to https://malegislature.gov/Bills and entering the bill numbers.

Representative Matt Beaton was our key sponsor for these Bills and he did a wonderful job speaking on behalf of the legislation while challenging the claims made by those testifying in opposition. He feels that our efforts are having an impact and that progress is being made. I spoke to Representative Beaton after the hearing, and he had this to say: “I want to thank the members of Stripers Forever for their diligent efforts to conserve striped bass and for representing the more than 500,000 recreational fishermen who fish annually for striped bass in the Commonwealth. SF has raised important points regarding this valuable fishery, and it is my intent to work with the committee leadership about forming a subcommittee to dig deeper into this issue. I will stay on top of that idea and will keep you posted with any updates."

We are very grateful for Matt’s legislative leadership role on behalf of the welfare of wild striped bass. We have always realized that progress on striped bass conservation would take time, and we are optimistic that Stripers Forever is making inroads into the legislature’s tendency to maintain the status quo on fishery issues.

Special thanks also go out to Henri Rauschenbach our legislative consultant/lobbyist. He did a very good job getting these Bills on the legislative hearing agenda and in discussing the issues with key legislators prior to the hearing. We were well represented and many spoke eloquently on behalf of the Bills. Hopefully when the next opportunity arises we will be able to present an even more formidable presence. It makes a difference!

Thanks to everyone that was involved in this very successful effort toward conserving wild striped bass. We expect to be contacting you again within the next few weeks to provide additional information to legislators on the committee. Anyone with questions about the Bills or how to make their voice heard is welcome to contact me.

Dean Clark, 508 769-9765, [email protected]