New commercial striper rules target stockpiling

Martha's Vineyard commercial fishermen will have to follow new rules when bass fishing for pleasure.

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The commercial striped bass season has come to a close, according to the state Division of Marine Fisheries. - File photo

The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) will require commercial striped bass fishermen who fish recreationally on days closed to the commercial harvest of striped bass to remove the entire right pectoral fin of any fish greater than 34 inches he or she chooses to retain.

The commercial season begins on June 30 and ends when the Massachusetts quota is reached: 869,813 pounds in 2015. In an effort to extend the commercial fishing season, maintain market price, and mitigate early-season market gluts, DMF allows fishermen with a commercial permit to take 15 striped bass, a minimum length of 34 inches only, on Mondays and Thursdays.

According to a DMF press release, “‘stockpiling’ refers to harvesting fish on a closed commercial fishing day for sale on a subsequent open commercial day.” DMF said stockpiling is difficult to detect and prevent, because no misconduct is committed until well after the fish is landed.

“The marking of fish by fin removal provides law enforcement officers and seafood dealers the ability to identify a recreationally harvested striped bass and keep it out of commerce,” DMF said.

The new rule also applies to any person fishing aboard a vessel that is either named on a commercial striped bass permit endorsement or carrying the holder of a commercial striped bass permit endorsement. Concurrently, dealers are prohibited from purchasing and selling any striped bass that has had its right pectoral fin removed.

The entire fin must be completely removed. A video has been posted to the Division’s YouTube channel to demonstrate a fin removal compliant with the rule.

In October, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), a 15-member body responsible for managing fish species and implementing management plans along the East Coast, announced plans to reduce the striped bass harvest. As a result, recreational fishermen who had been allowed to take two fish are now allowed to take one fish per day a minimum of 28 inches long.

For more information, call 617-626-1520 or go to mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dmf/.