Where's the catch? Anglers rocked by lack of fish

http://hamptonroads.com/2014/01/wheres-catch-anglers-rocked-lack-fish I’m inshore and offshore a lot, and I do not buy the BS about the fish in the former moving to the latter. The fish that hang offshore are in better shape because they’ve been exploited less. But offshore is a sanctuary for spawners, and now that we’ve hammered the inshore fish some of the greedier among us want to do the same to the offshore fish. It’s the last-buffalo syndrome.

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A couple of things going on here

There are probably a couple of things going on here.
First, a good part of the bass always wintered well offshore, although some portion of the fish wandered into state waters.  When the population was healthy, normal competitive pressures, coupled with fish's natural tendency to move around a bit, resulted in a lot of bass being available closer to shore.  Today, with the population poised just above the overfishing threshold, there is far less competitive pressure pushing fish inshore, and the reduced number of bass means that fewer fish will enter state waters as a result of random movements.
Second, Virginia charter (and private) boats historically ignored federal law, and fishered for and retained bass in the EEZ.  But after the Coast Guard and NMFS made ending EEZ violations a priority, and obtained some Lacey Act convictions of charter operators who brazenly violated the law, the price of doing the wrong thing went up substantially, and far fewer boats are willing to do it.  The mere act of fishing legally caused the bottom to fall out of landings, for the reasons explained above.

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