Long Island anglers split on striped bass regulations

Striped bass on Long Island
A striped bass caught in Peconic Bay. (Credit: Melanie Drozd, file)

New striped bass regulations are expected to take effect in New York this spring, splitting those who make a living off charter trips and those who fish for sport. 

At the suggestion of the regional Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council, a state advisory board made a recommendation to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation that commercial striper hauls be reduced by 25 percent. On the recreational side, which includes charter fishing boats, keepers have been proposed to be changed from two 28-inch striped bass to one 28- to 34-inch striper and one “trophy fish” bass measuring at least 36 inches.

DEC officials are still determining exactly what regulations to pass. The Long Island striper season kicks off April 15.

Bob Busby, captain of Greenport’s Eaton Lobster II charter fishing boat and vice president of the North Fork Captains Association, said that if the regulations are good enough for DEC scientists and other agencies, they’re good enough for him.

“As long as it’s within the parameters of what the DEC is saying is a satisfactory harvest and protects our stocks for future, I feel most of us professionally accept that,” said Mr. Busby, who has been a captain for more than 40 years. “We don’t want to see fish depleted.”

Recreational fisherman Ross Squire had organized the “1@32 Pledge,” a push to make regulations even stricter — one catch at 32 inches.

He shared data from the 2014 Surf Fishing Contest, an annual contest comprising more than 400 anglers statewide. The average points per club were the lowest they’ve been since 2001, which he said demonstrates how much the stock has been seriously depleted.

“We’re branded as ‘basshuggers’ when all we want is the striped bass fishery to come back into abundance, which is really in the best interest of everybody,” Mr. Squire said.

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