The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Striped Bass Management Board exercised a rarely used emergency action aimed at reducing fishing mortality in the striped bass fishery. with the goal of increasing the chances of rebuilding the population to the biomass target by 2029. The Emergency Action will implement a maximum size limit of 31 inches on all recreational fishing (in the Chesapeake Bay and along the coast) with states mandated to implement the change by July 2, 2023. Minimum size limit, bag limit, seasons, and equipment restrictions will remain unchanged. The Board also initiated Schedule II, which will consider a more comprehensive management change using the formal public input process for implementation in 2024.
The Massachusetts delegation led the emergency action after population projections showed significant rebuilding headwinds stemming from four consecutive years of failed recruitment in the Chesapeake Bay and an increase in fishing mortality in 2022.
Striped bass are extremely important to coastal communities throughout the Atlantic and the entire fishing economy, estimated to generate $7.8 billion annually in economic production. The sport fishing industry values the long-term sustainability of fishing while allowing for reasonable recreational fishing opportunities. We encourage states and ASMFC to work with sport fishing industry leaders on a communication plan to ensure that a mid-year management change in 2023 has the intended conservation benefits across all recreational fishing.
“The Board has signaled that it is prepared to act conservatively on striped bass to ensure rebuilding,” said Mike Waine, Director of Atlantic Fisheries Policy for the American Game Fishing Association. “It is hoped that taking emergency measures now pays dividends later so that we can avoid the additional use of short-term changes in regulations and instead focus on predictable and long-lasting management measures to provide stability to the most important fishery. and valuable in the mid-Atlantic and New England regions.
“Controlling fishing mortality along the entire coast is the key to rebuilding striped bass abundance to the levels the public expects and deserves,” said David Sikorski, executive director of CCA Maryland and Maryland legislative appointee to the board of management. striped bass “However, it is also important to recognize that striper recruitment issues related to successive poor spawning, coupled with an expanding population of blue catfish in the Chesapeake Bay, will continue to complicate the long-term trajectory of this iconic fishery.”
“There are certainly many factors at play that drive striped bass abundance over time, but fishing mortality is the only thing we can directly address in the striped bass management plan,” said Chris Horton, Senior Director of Fisheries Policy for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Association. Foundation, “While the increase in recreational taking in 2022 could be a good sign, based on recent stock assessments and the current state of the stock given the information we have available today, it is not surprising that ASMFC is erring on the side of caution and reduce mortality without reducing access to fishing.
“The TRCP appreciates that the Board is taking action to increase the chance of rebuilding the coastal ray population by 2029,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Active management to decrease fishing mortality, along with full consideration of the need for a healthy forage fish base and mitigation of the impacts of interactions with invasive species, are crucial elements in improving the chances of long-term stability. term of striped bass populations”.
The American Sport Fishing Association (ASA) is the trade association for the sport fishing industry committed to representing the interests of the sport fishing and boating industries, as well as the entire sport fishing community. We provide the industry and anglers with a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect the sport fishing business or sport fishing itself. ASA invests in companies for the long term to ensure the industry remains strong and prosperous, as well as to safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation, and social values of America’s sport fishing. ASA also gives America’s 55 million fishermen a voice in political decisions that affect their ability to fish sustainably in our nation’s waterways through Keep America Fishing, our national fisherman advocacy campaign. America’s fishermen generate more than $50 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating jobs for 825,000 people.