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ASMFC TO LOOK AT STRIPER HARVEST INCREASE

Stripers Forever asks anglers to get involved with ASMFC process in an effort to keep striped bass fishing mortality levels at the current, lower rate.
By Brad Burns – Stripers Forever  |  April 30, 2017
ASMFC TO LOOK AT STRIPER HARVEST INCREASE
Current harvest levels need to be maintained for striper stocks to remain healthy and provide a viable fishery for recreational anglers.

Commercial interests are again demanding higher kill limits on striped bass. Chesapeake Bay area commercial fishermen want to roll back the conservation measures put in place in 2013 and return to the harvest levels that caused coast-wide recreational catches to decline by up to 90 percent.

On May 9th the Striped Bass Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission will consider whether or not to send this request for a larger striper kill out to public hearing. We must act now and request that the ASMFC commissioners vote down this increase.

The recreational catch coast wide has dropped from a consistent nine to 10 million fish in the early 2000s to three to four million in recent years. This 65 percent or so drop in the average recreational catch has cost multiple times as many jobs in the recreational fishery as all the commercial striped bass fishing jobs that have ever existed. Stripers should be managed for the far more socio-economically valuable recreational fishery, and that means more fish left in the ocean, not less.

Data shows that under the higher catch limits the Chesapeake Bay year classes have become progressively less consistent and that the trend line for spawning success is down. We also know that the number of really large striped bass in the population is way down from the early 2000s. That was why the catch limits were all reduced just three years ago, and we should never return to those harvest levels.

So why is the ASMFC contemplating this move? The answer is simple, because the commercial fishing community in Chesapeake Bay has the governor’s ear, and the Maryland fishery executive on the striped bass board is charged with doing his best to get more fish for the state’s commercial striper fishery. Recreational striped bass anglers need to speak out to keep this from happening.

The effort starts with getting the states that we each live in to vote in favor of fisheries conservation. The vote last time was close. However, both New Jersey and Connecticut voted in favor of the increased catch. Why? God only knows, but we need to tell the governors of these states, plus each state representative on the ASMFC that we want good fishing, and do not want to return to the fishing mortality levels that so drastically reduced the stocks.

The Recent News section on the home page of the Stripers Forever website www.stripersforever.org has all the information on how to weigh in on this issue.

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