To the Editor:
I urge all of the public to pay close attention to Nelson Sigelman’s article last week and to the upcoming House Bill 796 that would ban the commercial fishing for striped bass in Massachusetts waters.
It is most important to note that this is not a bill designed in any way to preserve stocks of striped bass.
Rather, it is a bill solely intended to reallocate the 1.2 million pounds of stripers currently allowed commercial fishermen to the use of recreational tackle manufacturers. This is being done under the guise of conservation, by paid professional lobbyists led by a group called Stripers Forever.
These lobbyists are very, very good at what they do. Listening to their rhetoric could convince an unknowing public that these are the last stripers left in the ocean, not a carefully managed, sustainable commercial harvest determined by marine biologists not to be detrimental to the overall striper population.
There are many factors governing the health and patterns of the striped bass population. The oceans are changing, and many of these fish, once almost exclusively coastal migrators, are now to be found beyond the three-mile state water limit. Since all commercial fishing for stripers is mandated within this three-mile limit (recreational as well), it has been determined by the recreational tackle industry and their lobbyists that the small percentage of stripers allocated to commercial fishermen could translate into big profits for them. The entire rest of the striper population is not enough. They want everything.
This should never have become a political issue. We have an excellent Division of Marine Fisheries, advised by the best marine biologists, and they all oppose House Bill 796. Please listen to them and don’t let paid lobbyists do to commercial fishermen what they have already done to so much of the rest of America.
West Tisbury and Cotuit