North Carolina Striped Bass Prosecutions

Stripers Forever Asked to be Involved in a Federal Court Case Sentencing of Guilty Poachers in North Carolina

Stripers Forever and its members have been asked to provide information to the NC federal judge who will be sentencing a ring of commercial fishermen who conspired to commercially catch and then divide between themselves striped bass that were harvested from the EEZ so that they could land them in smaller quantities that were legal inshore.  Their guilt has been established. This was a major bust and the fear that the Department of Justice lawyers have is that during sentencing the judge will hand out a relatively light – cost of doing business – sort of fine that will not serve as a proper deterrent.

The fact the Stripers Forever has been asked to be involved is significant. Because Striped Bass migrate, any illegal activity affecting stripers anywhere along the coast affects us all. Below is the letter that Stripers Forever will be sending to the presiding judge. Additionally, the Department of Justice lawyers handling the prosecution have asked individuals to send in their own comments.

Honorable United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle

United States District Court

Eastern District of North Carolina

Regarding the Impact of Illegal Striped Bass Harvesting by Commercial Fisherman in North Carolina

Dear Judge Boyle:

My name is Brad Burns and I’m the president of Stripers Forever, a membership organization representing more than 3,000 members with various interests in the striped bass fishery. Our members come from all the states along the East Coast and many inland states and foreign countries as well.
Striped bass are a migratory species that travel along the Atlantic seaboard. As such, what happens to Striped bass in North Carolina directly affects fishermen and the fishing economy up and down the coast. Stripers are targeted both commercially and recreationally. More than three million individuals fish for them each year supporting a 2.43 billion dollar recreational fishing industry. When these fish are targeted illegally the species suffers dramatically along with the incomes and quality of life for many Americans not just in NC but everywhere stripers migrate. This is a coast-wide issue.

Frederic B. Jennings Jr, a Ph.D. economist, recently completed a study that sheds new light on the recreational valuation of migratory striped bass. His study is based entirely on NOAA data, and his methodology has been peer reviewed by NOAA economists. It shows that the recreational value of just one striper is worth 20 times more than the retail market value of the same fish!

The social importance and economic value of the recreational striped bass fishery has deep roots in coastal communities. This is a highly regulated fishery designed to protect the species and the value they represent.  In spite of this the population of striped bass has declined and fishing guides as well as other jobs in the recreational fishing industry have already been lost.

In considering the seriousness of these crimes and in deciding your sentencing judgement please factor into your deliberations how illegally harvesting striped bass potentially effects so many people.

Respectfully Submitted,

Brad Burns, President of Stripers Forever

Your letters should be addressed as follows:

Honorable United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle
United States District Court
Eastern District of North Carolina

But please e-mail the letters to:

Shane Waller ( who is one of the federal lawyers handling the prosecution. He will present the letters to the judge as part of his sentencing argument. Keep it very brief, no more than two or three short paragraphs, and send it off asap. The lawyers are suggesting that the letters should be reasonably worded and not filled with sensationalist bad mouthing or statements urging the judge to “hang em” etc.  One concern is that being too strident may have just the opposite effect that we would want.
Socio economic impacts are especially important.  If you are a guide who has lost business, or if you used to go to NC in the winter to fish but have stopped because of the lack of fish, please make those sentiments known.

Thanks. This is a measurable opportunity for you and Stripers Forever to make a difference.

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Stripers Forever
209 Winn Road
Falmouth, ME 04105


Welcome to the official web site for Stripers Forever, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to making the striped bass a gamefish. By eliminating commercial exploitation of the #1 recreational saltwater fishery on the east coast, over 3,000,000 recreational anglers will enjoy the social and financial benefits that will come from an improved striped bass population.


Stripers Forever advocates for the conservation and responsible stewardship of wild striped bass along the Atlantic Coast.

Stripers Forever, a non-profit, internet-based conservation organization, seeks game fish status for wild striped bass on the Atlantic Coast in order to significantly reduce striper mortality, to provide optimum and sustainable public fishing opportunities for anglers from Maine to North Carolina, and to secure the greatest socio-economic value possible from the fishery.

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