House Passes Bill To Open Waters Off Montauk To Striped Bass Fishing
The U.S. House of Represenatives this week unanimously approved a bill that would open waters between Montauk Point and Block Island to striped bass fishing.
The Senate will still have to approve its own version of the bill and it will have to be signed by President Obama before it becomes law.
If adopted into law, the bill, which was sponsored by U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, will open what is known as the Block Island Sound “transit zone” to striper fishing. The zone, which starts three miles off the Montauk and Rhode Island coastlines and continues until three miles off Block Island’s coastline, is currently off limits to striped bass fishermen because striped bass fishing is prohibited in federal waters, which start three miles from shore in any coastal state.
Recreational and charter boat fishermen from New York and Rhode Island have long argued that the original federal waters closure to striped bass fishing was not intended to include what is effectively inshore waters in Block Island Sound just because they are more than three miles from land.
Fisheries conservationists have, alternately, argued that keeping the area off limits to fishing would help reduce mortality to the slumping striped bass stock.
A similar bill to the one passed this week was introduced by Congressman Zeldin’s predecessor, Tim Bishop, but never won enough support to come to a vote of the full House.
“Long Island fishermen are faced with many issues; one of the most pressing is the urgent need to clarify the federal regulations regarding striped bass fishing in the small area of federally controlled waters between Montauk Point and Block Island,” Congressman Zeldin said in a statement on Thursday. “Fishermen are desperately pleading for common sense relief and the EEZ Transit Zone Clarification Act is just one way that Congress can help. I am excited to see this bill pass the House with such strong bipartisan support.”