Patrols underway to enforce federal striped bass regulations in N.J.

Members of Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light board a recreational fishing vessel while conducting a living marine resources patrol and vessel safety inspection on Nov. 7, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Seth Johnson)

Members of Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light board a recreational fishing vessel while conducting a living marine resources patrol and vessel safety inspection on Nov. 7, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Seth Johnson)

As striped bass arrive in New Jersey waters, the U.S. Coast Guard is ready to issue fines to anglers who catch striped bass outside of the allowable boundary, officials say.

Striped bass are federally protected within the “Exclusive Economic Zone,” which begins three miles offshore. The prohibition allows striped bass “to grow and prevent overfishing,” said Lt. Matthew Kahley, an officer who deals with fisheries enforcement at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia.

The fine is $500 per fish, and anglers caught with more than five fish could face even larger fines, according to NOAA spokesperson Kate Brogan. NOAA assists the Coast Guard with enforcing the regulation.

A release from Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light said teams are out inspecting fishing and safety gear along with fish catch.

“The Coast Guard and partner agencies such as NOAA are also currently focusing on ensuring commercial fishing gear and tackle is properly labeled and equipped with weak links to prevent accidental whale deaths as part of a nation-wide initiative,” Kahley said. “Weak links allow for marine mammals and endangered species such as right whales to break away from the fishing gear in the event of an accidental entanglement.”

To prevent straying into the Exclusive Economic Zone, the agency recommends that captains use electronic charts and marine band radio.

“Protecting marine resources has long been a Coast Guard mission, and we have Coast Guard members out actively patrolling and enforcing these rules,” Kahley said. “If we find someone who is fishing for striped bass in the prohibited area, they should expect to receive a violation.”

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