Editor’s Log: Potential Changes For 2024 Striper Regs - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Potential Changes For 2024 Striper Regs

Back in the early summer, the ASMFC striper board called for emergency regulation changes to the 28 to 35-inch slot limit for striped bass. Basically, the emergency action was brought about when it was realized that the goals were not going to be met. States had a grace period to comply and shrink the slot limit to 28 to 31 inches. All states complied.

In May 2023, the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board initiated the development of Draft Addendum II to Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass to consider management measures to reduce fishing mortality to the target and support stock rebuilding by 2029. The Draft Addendum also proposes options to allow the board to respond more quickly to upcoming stock assessment updates.

More recently, the ASMFC has proposed new management options, which are presented in the Draft Addendum II to Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. During the months of November and December, the ASMFC roadshow held meetings throughout the Atlantic states and opened up the opportunity for public comment on the five proposed options. One of the options, A, would put the top end of the slot back up to 35 inches and would not result in any reduction, so technically speaking, only four options are on the table for the 2024 season. Option B would keep the regulation the same as it was after the change for all of those fishing for striped bass, which would be 28 to 31 inches. This option would result in an overall reduction of 14.1%. Option C, also the option that I have a feeling it might become for the season, would see a split regulation, leaving the private vessel/ shorebound anglers with the 28 to 31-inch shot and the for-hire sector with a 28 to 33-inch slot for the season. This option has an extremely similar overall reduction to option B at 14%, meaning that the extra two inches given to the for-hire sector only account for a .1% difference in the overall reduction. From my personal observations, the meeting I attended on December 4th was heavily attended by for-hire captains, along with a handful of surfcasters and private vessel anglers. The for-hire side made it very clear that they support option C, and I would have to assume that the same trend took place for the rest of the meetings within the states. And at only a .1% difference between the two options according to ASMFC data, I can’t blame the charter and party industry for fully supporting C. Option D would see a higher over slot for everyone at 30 to 33 inches, and Option E is another split reg at 30 to 33 inches for the private vessels/casters and 28 to 33 inches for the for-hire group.

One other point brought up was that the rapidly changing striper migration patterns were too quick to keep up with the slower-moving data collection methods. Another point brought up is that stripers may be spawning in different locations now due to changing patterns, and studies have not been done to a full extent on their new spawning grounds. Housatonic and Connecticut Rivers were a couple of locations specifically mentioned.

Another thing that anglers should be aware of is section 3.1.4 of draft addendum II. Option A of the section would be the status quo, and option B reads: For states that authorize at-sea/shore-side filleting of striped bass, establish minimum requirements, including requirements for racks to be retained; skin to be left intact, and possession to be limited to no more than two fillets per legal fish. States should consider including language about when and where racks may be disposed of, specific to each mode allowed to fillet at-sea/shore. This option got immediate pushback from the for-hire group.

So the bottom line is some sort of change should be expected for the 2024 striper season, and according to the ASMFC timeline, we should have final approval by January after the board reviews public comments and goes about selecting management measures.

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