BOSTON — Commercial fishermen pleaded with lawmakers this week not to interfere with striped bass catch limits, saying it is not the Legislature’s place to manage fisheries.
But others who run recreational fishing charter boats argued if state lawmakers do nothing, striped bass stocks will continue to dwindle and tourists who come to Massachusetts to fish in coastal communities will disappear, hurting local economies.
The two sides spent nearly five hours trying to convince lawmakers of their opposing viewpoints during a packed hearing of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. The committee is chaired by Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, and Rep. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer.
The commercial and recreational fishermen, charter boat captains, scientists and seafood restaurateurs testified about the potential impacts of four bills aimed at restricting striped bass catches and declaring it a “game fish,” essentially prohibiting commercial fishing. Five other states have passed similar legislation declaring striped bass a game fish, including Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut.