What a difference thirty-five years makes.

Back in 1985, when it first became apparent that striped bass are not a limitless species, an effort to remove the fish from the Island competition that bears its name was hard-fought and ugly. Facing intense pressure from supporters and opponents, the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby voted a narrowly in favor of a moratorium.

By contrast, this week’s announcement that the derby is once again removing striped bass from the tournament was greeted almost universally with praise. Fishermen understand the grave nature of the declining fish stocks and are willing to forego a season or more of sportfishing if it helps shine a brighter light on the issue.

Most agree that the action by the derby committee is largely symbolic. Though striped bass rebounded enough after eight years the last time to make it back into the derby, the factors driving changes in all the ocean fisheries these days may not be so easily solved.

Still, it’s an important step, and one that the derby should be commended for taking.