What Is The EEZ And Why Is It Important

The EEZ, short for the Exclusive Economic zone, is a boundary that allows countries to regulate the natural resources in the waters within their “boundaries” for fishing and non-fishing industries. 

 As defined by NOAA“The exclusive economic zone is the zone where the U.S. and other coastal nations have jurisdiction over natural resources.  The U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends no more than 200 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline and is adjacent to the 12 nautical mile territorial sea of the U.S., including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any other territory or possession over which the United States exercises sovereignty. [1]

Within the EEZ, the U.S. has sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources, whether living and nonliving, of the seabed and subsoil and the superjacent waters and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds.  Jurisdiction as provided for in international and domestic laws with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures, marine scientific research, and the protection and preservation of the marine environment; and Other rights and duties provided for under international and domestic laws.

Note: Under certain U.S. fisheries laws, such as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the term “exclusive economic zone” is defined as having an inner boundary that is coterminous with the seaward (or outer) boundary of each of the coastal states. While its outer limit is the same as the EEZ on NOAA charts, its inner limit is coterminous with the coastal states’ boundary at 3 nautical miles, except for Texas, western Florida, and Puerto Rico, which claim a 9 nautical mile belt.”

The United States EEZ, exclusive economic zone, 3 mile limit, striped bassThe United States EEZ, exclusive economic zone, 3 mile limit, striped bass
The United States EEZ

NOAA press release … 

Anglers be mindful – No striped bass fishing in the EEZ

It’s that time of year, again — striped bass are on the move and NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement wants to make sure anglers understand and abide by federal regulation. The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is closed to all striped bass fishing.

“We have a very important mission to ensure sustainable marine resources,” said OLE Enforcement Officer John Ford. “But, our success relies heavily on regulation compliance by each and every fisherman.”

In the Atlantic, the EEZ is a water zone beginning at 3 nautical miles and extending to 200 nautical miles off of the U.S. coastline, including the coastlines of U.S. territories and islands. These waters have been closed to striped bass fishing since 1990, when federal legislation was implemented in order to protect striper spawning and the rebuilding of the species, which was recovering from decades of overfishing.

According to the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act[2], as well as prohibitions found in Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 600.725[3], it is unlawful for any person to fish for Atlantic striped bass in the EEZ, harvest any Atlantic striped bass from the EEZ, retain this species taken in or from the EEZ, and/or possess any striped bass in or from the EEZ.

There is, however, one exception to the possession restriction. In the waters between Montauk Point, Block Island, and Point Judith, possession of Atlantic striped bass is permitted, provided no fishing activity is conducted from the vessel while in the EEZ and the vessel is in continuous transit.

“Long ago the federal waters were open to numerous species, including striper” said Ford. “We’ve come close to losing a few species and we want to make sure that striped bass maintains a healthy population – not only for the survivability of the fish, but also for the sustainability for the fishing industry.”

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