Should MA Make Striped Bass A Protected Game Fish?

Tomorrow, January 14th the state of Massachusetts has hearings on bill H796 which would ban the commercial harvesting and sale of wild striped bass, make it illegal to kill more than one striped bass per day, and enforce stringent rules on the raising of farmed fish. This effectively would make striped bass a gamefish in the waters off of the state out to three miles. In October of 2007, president Bush signed an executive order making striped bass a gamefish only in federal waters or those waters past three miles.

Of course there's supporters of the bill like Stripersforever.org who's aim is to, "make the striped bass a gamefish by eliminating commercial exploitation of the #1 recreational saltwater fishery on the east coast". Stripers forever claims that in a study they sponsored, "recreational fishing added 1.16 billion to state economy versus 24.2 million from commercial fishing (in 2003) and created 10,986 jobs to 524 in commercial fishing."

Then there is the opposition who's made up mostly of commercial fisherman who claim that commercial fishing is quota-based and depending on who you listen to, claim that 10 to 15 times the commercial amount is actually taken by recreational anglers. Many individuals also see it as a slippery slope that could limit access to everyone, period...

Then you've got the added confusion of huge commercial "dragger" boats offshore who kill striped bass by the thousands as bycatch and simply throw them overboard.

It's enough to make this Colorado boy's head spin...

How about you East Coast striper anglers? Where do you stand on the issue?

TR