The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is preparing to implement a commercial tagging program for all states with commercial striped bass fisheries and to increase penalties for poaching.

The commission approved for public comment Draft Addendum II to Amendment Six to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for striped bass. The draft amendment, which is going out for public comment shortly and will likely not be implemented until 2014, follows the recommendations of the Interstate Watershed Task Force. The task force was seeking ways to curb commercial striped bass poaching.

Poaching of striped bass has long been a problem. A recent federal investigation of the problem in the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River resulted in $1.6 million in fines from 19 individuals and three corporations and showed the poachers illegally took more than 1 million pounds of striped bass from Bay waters.

Tom O’Connell, director of fisheries at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and a longtime ASMFC member, called the move both unusual and beneficial.

“It shows that the managers are listening to law enforcement,” he said. “They are better enabling the officers to enforce the rules set by fisheries managers.”

Public comment will be accepted until July 13. Comments should go to Kate Taylor, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703-842-0741 (fax) or Put Atlantic Striped Bass Draft Addendum III in the subject line.