Editor’s Log: Politics, Religion, Money, Stripers - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Politics, Religion, Money, Stripers

We all have our differences, right? In most aspects of life, we, as humans, will always find it hard to agree on a lot of things. The obvious ones that come to mind right away are our differences in politics, religion, and money. They do say never to discuss these things at the dinner table. Of course, if you are involved in the fishing culture and the Northeast one especially, you can add a fourth to the list; striped bass.

It’s always been a heated topic between different groups, commercial and recreational, but the debate certainly saw some additional life added to it in recent months when the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and its Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board voted to approve an emergency measure to lower the maximum striped bass size to 31 inches from its previous slot limit of 28 to 35 inches. So, as it stands right now, the new slot is 28 to 31 inches. According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the 31-inch size restriction is designed to reduce the harvesting of the 2015 year-class of bass, the last strong year-class, which was a significant factor in the recreational fishery’s increased harvest of the popular fish in 2022.

I’ve been on both ends of both groups within the recreational sector, fielding questions and comments about the topic. Most for-hire and party boats have expressed their opposition to the new slot. First and foremost, their concerns are the discord mortality rate and what a tighter slot will do to it. After speaking with several captains, they voiced the fact that they will have to catch and release much more fish to find that striper in the 28 to 31-inch range for their customers, resulting in a larger amount of fish that will not make it once released just by increased catch and release numbers and the automatic mortality that comes along with it. It was explained to me that typically when they run a trip, they will focus on stripers only until they get a limit and then will move on to another specie once filled. Now they have to focus on stripers longer since it’s tougher to get that new slot fish. And those who I did take to did express their passion for conserving the striper fishery for years to come also. They just believe that the decision was gone about in the wrong way and that this implementation of a smaller slot will be counterproductive to the future of striper fishing.

On the other side of the aisle, those in favor of this new slot size for stripers are taking the conservation-minded approach and are following along with what the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is letting us know about rebuilding the striper population. There are even different stances within the same group. Some think that striped bass are more valuable as a catch-and-release fish compared to a harvestable fish, while others still do want to be able to harvest fish but support the new regulation in hopes that the decision from the management board will help stripers in the long run.

Both groups have sent in letters while the Montauk Captains Association has even started a petition to make themselves heard by public officials in hopes that something will be done to change the slot back or, again on the other side of the fence, stop the efforts by keeping the slot the same with letter sent in from organizations, clubs and individuals to Albany. It seems like as one group pushes, the other pushes back. Finding some sort of common ground has become an extreme challenge as of late on this topic.

Yeah, the differences are pretty obvious here. Just remember, next time you’re out to dinner with some of your fishing buddies, you might want to refrain from “striper politics.”

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