By Ken Schultz
Recently a friend asked me if the U.S. had a national fish, like we have a national symbol in the bald eagle. We don't. And probably shouldn't, in my opinion.
In 2015, Rep. Tom MacArthur, then a freshman Congressman from New Jersey, introduced the Striped Bass American Heritage Act, which proposed to make the striped bass our country's national fish. It didn't gain any traction.
If you'd like to read more about the life and behavior of the striper, you can find it at this link: http://fishing.about.com/…/fl/Species-Profile-Striped-Bass.…
I love the striper, but I'm not sure that this or any other species warrants such designation. What, exactly, are the benefits? Will it change anything with respect to management or commercial fishing activities? How would the striper as a national fish have related to the people in Minnesota or Ohio, or other places with no native striped bass population?
What about the cod, which, as Mark Kurlansky noted in his book of the same name, was responsible for explorers discovering North America? What about the salmon species of the Northwest, which were of equal importance to natives and settlers of that region as the striper was to the Northeast? What about the largemouth bass, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has noted in its regular surveys of sportfishing, is the most popular sportfish in America?
Maybe it is best left to each state to determine its own "state" fish. Many of them do. Btw, the state saltwater fish of Congressman MacArthur's New Jersey is the striped bass.
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