Atlantic States Reduced Striped Bass Removals By 28% - More Than Required - The Fisherman

Atlantic States Reduced Striped Bass Removals By 28% – More Than Required

While the goal for 2020 was reduce striped bass removals by 18% relative to 2017 levels, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and its Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board (Board) said states actually realized an estimated 28% reduction in total removals coastwide.

The total reduction in striped bass removals in 2020 include commercial harvest, commercial dead discards, recreational harvest, and recreational release mortality. The next stock assessment update for striped bass, scheduled to occur in 2022, will provide an update on the status of stock relative to the biological reference points.

According to the ASMFC, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted data collection for the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) dockside sampling program, but MRIP was able to fill those data gaps using information from 2018 and 2019. “While this does increase the uncertainty around the estimates of total recreational catch, there is still high confidence in those estimates and the estimates of the realized reductions,” ASMFC said in a press release.

After considering 2020 fishery performance, the Board provided guidance on a number of topics related to the development of Draft Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for striped bass; those topics include recreational release mortality, conservation equivalency, and management triggers, among others.

Amendment 7 was initiated in August 2020 to update the management program to reflect current fishery needs and priorities as the status and understanding of the striped bass resource and fishery has changed considerably since implementation of Amendment 6 in 2003. The Amendment is intended to build upon previous actions by ASMFC and the Board to end overfishing and initiate rebuilding of the coastwide fishery.

The previous Addendum VI was initiated following a new benchmark assessment on striped bass in 2019 which found the stock to be overfished since 2013 and experiencing overfishing.  Specifically, the Addendum reduced all state commercial quotas by 18%, and implemented a one-fish bag limit and a new slot limit for ocean fisheries to protect larger fish as of 2020.  “The measures are designed to achieve at least an 18% reduction in total removals at the coastwide level,” ASMFC said at the time.   That particular Addendum also mandated the use of circle hooks when fishing with bait to reduce release mortality in recreational striped bass fisheries which took effect earlier in 2021.

Concurrent with the development of Draft Amendment 7, the Board recently initiated an addendum to consider allowing the voluntary transfer of commercial striped bass quota between states/jurisdictions that have commercial quota. This action is in response to a request from the State of Delaware to reconsider Delaware’s current commercial quota allocation.

Based on progress made on Draft Amendment 7 and Draft Addendum VII, the Board’s next opportunity to meet and consider possible approval of both documents for public comment will be in October during the Commission’s Annual Meeting. For more information, contact Emilie Franke, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at efranke@asmfc.org or 703-842-0740.

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