Zeldin: Reinvigorating fishing means cutting needless regulations
One of my best memories of growing up on Long Island is fishing in our local waterways with family and friends. It’s an industry, but it’s also a way of life and pastime that is part of our history, culture, and overall greatness as an island. For hundreds of years, the waters which surround us and the bounties within it are natural treasures which we can never take for granted. It is a shame that regulations are obstructing fishermen who want to responsibly harvest this great resource.
Between New York State’s maritime boundary, which ends three miles off of Montauk Point, and Rhode Island state waters, which begin three miles off of Block Island, there is a small area of federally controlled water that is considered part of the “Exclusive Economic Zone,” or EEZ. The EEZ, which extends up to 200 miles from the coast, are waters patrolled by the Coast Guard, where the United States has exclusive jurisdiction over fisheries and other natural resources. The unique geography of our region creates this small patch of EEZ between two areas of state controlled water. Striped bass fishing has been banned in the EEZ since 1990. Meanwhile, commercial and recreational fishing for dozens of species are permitted in the EEZ, further adding to the confusion of local anglers.
Because addressing this issue is one of the top priorities of Long Island fishermen, I have reintroduced my bill to reform our current laws as the Local Fishing Access Act (H.R. 1195). Last Congress, this bill passed the House with unanimous bipartisan support as H.R. 3070, the EEZ Clarification Act. The Local Fishing Access Act would reform the federal law that bans striped bass fishing in the Block Island transit zone, which are federal waters between Montauk, New York, and Block Island, Rhode Island. This bill will provide Long Island anglers with relief from confusing regulations, and allow Long Island’s fishermen to once again enjoy commercial and recreational striped bass fishing in these local waters just like they do in adjacent state controlled waters.
Fishing is an important industry and way of life on Long Island and Congress should do everything possible to ensure business owners can survive. I will continue working to get this bill passed and signed into law to provide common sense relief for our local fishermen. The dedicated men and women who fish in these waters and the tens of thousands of Long Islanders who depend upon the coastal economy of the East End deserve no less than the common sense reform promoted by this proposal.
We must reinvigorate the rapidly fading tradition of saltwater fishing in our area, while sacrificing none of the environmental and economic benefits of continuing to rebuild coastal fish stocks. There is no reason federal regulations should prevent anyone from responsible fishing in the waters surrounding Long Island. For me, enjoying the natural treasure that is Long Island fishing has been an important aspect of life on Long Island. Preserving this tradition for future generations to utilize and enjoy is critical, and I will keep working in Congress to make sure this bill passes the House once again and becomes law.
Congressman Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York. In Congress, Rep. Zeldin serves on two House Committees: Financial Services and Foreign Affairs.