Commercial fishermen trawling off of the Outer Banks of North Carolina are slaughtering thousands of striped bass in “culling” operations and tossing them overboard trying to keep larger stripers and remain under their 50 fish limit.
Both recreational anglers and smaller operation commercial fishermen have been aghast at the actions of the trawlers who are wiping out massive schools of stripers and discarding smaller fish to stay under the state 50 fish creel but maximize their profits.
A video of the striper carnage has been posted on You Tube showing some of the thousands of floating dead fish left in the wake of the trawlers. Outer Banks fishermen who are witnessing the fish kill have been taking to message boards and calling authorities to protest this striped bass massacre.
“It’s an atrocity,” said Captain Aaron Kelly, a top striper guide with over 15 years of experience on the Outer Banks. “It’s gone on before but I think this was the first time it was in front of such a large crowd.”
Captain Kelly said that the day before the video was shot he and the members of his charter followed one trawler for five miles leaving a long wake of dead stripers.
“It’s like they have an endless quota,” he said. “Under the actual numbers are so many dead fish. It’s a frightful waste.”
The striper trawling season is not set to close until this Saturday, January 20. The fishery can be closed earlier if a certain quota is reached, but the quota does not count the thousands of dead discards.
Captain JH Miller was on the water the day the video was made and called the scene “disturbing.”
“I’m not anti-commercial fishing in the least bit, but there is no justification for leaving miles and miles of dead fish out there,” said Captain Miller. “These were legal-sized fish just thrown away to die.”
Striped bass have to be 28 inches in size to be kept legally, and all of the charter captains confirmed that among the thousands of dead stripers were many that were over 28 inches and in the 15 pound range and higher.