Kitty Hawk, North Carolina - has received numerous e-mails in regard to a major commercial trawler discard off the coast of North Carolina this past weekend. Several people have reported that trawlers fishing off the coast of the Outer Banks were caught tossing thousands of dead, or near dead, rock fish overboard. A YouTube video and several pictures emailed to show the fish floating everywhere.

A concerned fisherman told, "Commercial netters are dredging thousands of striped bass off the Outer Banks, and throwing back thousands of fish in the quest to fill their quotas with the largest fish possible. Miles of dead, floating striped bass are the result. Classic example of poorly designed fishing laws creating waste in a vulnerable and valuable fishery."

According to the Coast Guard , several fishing vessels were cited in violation of federal law, including one vessel in possession of 58 illegally caught Atlantic striped bass. The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Beluga, while on patrol, detected and intercepted the illegal poachers Friday.

Coast Guard officials say the economic pressures being felt nationwide and water temperatures have driven the striped bass population farther off shore into warmer waters, setting the stage for a situation that may entice fishermen to break the law.

Another concerned fisherman told there were several boats in the area Tuesday culling through the fish and said many of them still had life left in them.

In an online forum called " The Hull Truth ," many have expressed outrage and call the discard sickening.

Fishing for striped bass is permitted within state waters, but catching or possessing striped bass in the Exclusive Economic Zone , which begins three nautical miles from shore, is a violation of federal regulations, according to the Coast Guard.

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries is investigating the massive discard.

Nancy Fish with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries told, "Both commercial and recreational fisheries have had issues with discards of striped bass in the past. However, this is the first time in several years that striped bass have migrated this close to the shore."

Fish said the commercial striped bass trawl fishery is scheduled to close at 6 p.m. on Thursday and the division will evaluate the effort and landings in this fishery to determine if quota remains and if the fishery should reopen. The division will also consider if alternative management measures could be used to prevent future discarded dead fish.

Coast Guard officials say federal authorities are taking legal action to ensure the longevity of the striped bass population and maintain a level playing field for all fishermen.

Boaters should be aware that the Coast Guard, as well as others, will continue to aggressively enforce laws and regulations concerning Atlantic striped bass.