Recently, DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office for Law Enforcement, U.S. Coast Guard, Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Police, and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Police conducted Operation Level Playing Field. This action enforced fishing laws and regulations on the Southwest Ledge off the coast of Block Island, an area frequently exploited by charter boat captains, dive operations, and both commercial and recreational anglers targeting striped bass near the tri-state boundary within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The EEZ is a portion of federal waters reserved for conserving and managing fishery stocks. The objective of the operation was to change the culture of fishing for striped bass in this protected area. This entailed a prolonged high-visibility patrol presence in the region, as well as boarding vessels to check for compliance.
During the operation, 13 vessel captains were cited for both state and federal violations; possession of striped bass in the EEZ, failure to fin clip a striped bass 34” or larger, and impeding a fisheries boarding. A total of 80 hours of patrol time was conducted during this operation.
DEM appreciates our partners who made this operation a success in helping level the playing field for all anglers who abide by current striped bass regulations. Agencies will continue to patrol this area to deter and disrupt any illegal activity.
Adhering to the rules is not only good for the health of our fisheries; it’s the law. For sizes and possession limits, visit dem.ri.gov/marine.