Striped bass limits will be changing again immediately in 2023, as the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and its Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board (Board) voted on an emergency measure to lower the upper end of the striped bass slot size to 31 inches.
The vote on Tuesday, May 2 means Atlantic coastal states will have to immediately enact new recreational striped bass regulations, with a coastwide slot of one fish at 28 to 31 inches in length.
The surprise decision came by way of a motion by the Board chair Dr. Michael Armstrong of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and was seconded by David Borden from Rhode Island. A final vote in favor of the emergency action was approved 15-1 vote, with the sole opposition coming from the state of New Jersey.
According to the official approved motion by the Board, the emergency action states that “jurisdictions are required to implement compliant measures as soon as possible and no later than July 2, 2023.” The emergency action will be in place for 180 days and may be extended for up to a year at the October meeting of the ASMFC.
“There are obviously administrative constraints to getting this in place, and state reps are going to have go back home to figure out how to communicate this, but the Board said we’re going to have to implement this now for 2023,” said Mike Waine of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).
Waine said this decision by the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board shows a more conservative approach by ASMFC to managing striped bass in the future. “They have clearly indicated that through their action today,” Waine said.
The only advance warning of this decision was in an April 23rd ASMFC memo regarding conservation equivalency and reduction considerations for potential management action and is based on poor recruitment numbers (young of the year) coming from the Chesapeake coupled with 2022 statistics from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) that indicated that overall angler harvest of striped bass was twice what it should’ve been to rebuild striped bass by 2029.
Individual states will now have until July 2 to comply with the ASMFC mandate of reducing the size of the slot striper regulation to one fish at 28 to 31 inches. More information can be found at asmfc.org.