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STRIPED BASS UPDATE – OF CIRCLES AND REGULATIONS

A quick look at the outcome of the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Management Board discussion at the Summer Meeting and what’s in store for the upcoming Public Hearings.
By Toby Lapinski  |  August 9, 2019
STRIPED BASS UPDATE – OF CIRCLES AND REGULATIONS
The Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board approved Addendum VI for Public Comment. Addendum VI will revise coastwide commercial and recreational regulations to address overfishing.

On Thursday, August 8, the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board (Board) of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) met as part of the Annual Summer Meeting in Arlington, VA. On the agenda for the Board was to consider Draft Addendum VI for Public Comment; and to consider postponed motions from April 2019 to initiate an Amendment to the Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan to address the needed consideration for change on the issues of fishery goals and objectives, empirical/biological/spatial reference points, management triggers, rebuilding biomass, and area-specific management.

The latter motion—initiating the Amendment to the Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery Management—was postponed once again to the Spring Meeting in May 2020 to allow time for the former motion to be addressed. This action was somewhat expected in that you don’t want to put the cart ahead of the horse, so to speak.

Regarding the former motion, the Board approved Addendum VI for Public Comment. Addendum VI will revise coastwide commercial and recreational regulations to address overfishing. This action is in response to the Atlantic Striped Bass Benchmark Stock Assessment which found that the resource is overfished and that overfishing is occurring.

As reported in the March 2019 issue of The Fisherman Magazine, “Overfishing is simply when the amount of fish being removed from the biomass is more than the number of new fish being recruited into the biomass. The second issue, the Stock Assessment Report Stated, is that the spawning stock biomass (SSB) is overfished. A stock that is overfished is when the biomass has fallen below the stock threshold. What is threshold? It is the minimum number of fish that the SSB cannot fall below without managers having to take action to rebuild the SSB back to the target level. Threshold and target are the two biological reference points (BRP) which any fishery management plan (FMP) uses to determine the health of a stock.”

Included in the approved Addendum are three options, each with a set of sub-options. They are:

  • Option 1: status quo which would result in no change in management and allow fisheries to continue to operate under Addendum IV;
  • Option 2: implement equal (18%) reductions for both the commercial and recreational fisheries;
  • Option 3: implement proportional reductions to the commercial fishery (1.8%) and recreational fishery (20%) based on annual harvest figures.

Options 2 and 3 include a slate of specific management sub-options for consideration (see below), and an additional set of sub-options will be available for the public comment period which include a slot limit consisting of a harvest range with a minimum length of 30 inches and an as-to-to-be-determined maximum length. This maximum length is going to be determined by the Technical Committee and will be available prior to the public hearings. Please note that these options are for the ocean, only, and fisheries inside the Chesapeake Bay have a different set of options which can be found at ASMFC.org and will be included in the public comment.

MANAGEMENT OPTION #2

MANAGEMENT OPTION #3

Further, as part of Addendum VI, the subject of mandatory circle hooks use when using bait for striped bass was discussed, and three unique management options for their implementation are being considered. They are:

  • Option A: Status Quo which simply recommends that states promote the use of circle hooks to reduce discard mortality;
  • Option B: mandatory implementation of the use of circle hooks;
  • Option C: mandatory promotion of the use of circle hooks by developing public education and outreach campaigns on their benefits. This last option would also require updates from each state on the public education and outreach efforts in annual state compliance reports.

CIRCLE HOOK OPTIONS

Public Hearings on Addendum VI will be held in each state from Maine to North Carolina over the next several weeks. Stay tuned to www.TheFisherman.com for official announcement of the meeting dates, times and places as soon as they are available.

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