Congressman Zeldin Re-Introduces Bill for Long Island Fishermen
Washington, DC - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) re-introduced his bill to protect Long Island fishermen 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. The Local Fishing Access Act will provide Long Island anglers with relief from confusing regulations. It will also 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.
Between the New York State 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 the 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.
Congressman Zeldin said, “One of the top legislative priorities of Long Island fishermen is the need to clarify the federal regulations regarding striped bass fishing in the small area of federally controlled waters between Montauk Point and Block Island. The Local Fishing Access Act would eliminate the regulatory confusion hurting the hardworking, responsible men and women of the region’s struggling fishing communities, while freeing up Coast Guard and other law enforcement resources that are diverted from more critical missions, such as national security and vessel safety. 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 Local Fishing Access Act (H.R. 1195) has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee. In December 2015, the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Congressman Rob Bishop (R, UT-1), co-hosted a hearing with Congressman Zeldin in Riverhead, NY where he was able to hear first-hand the concerns of Long Island fishermen including access to striped bass fishing.