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REVISED 2018 RECREATIONAL BLACK SEA BASS REGULATIONS ANNOUNCED

Following the approval of an appeal filed by the Northern Region States of the ASMFC, 2018 black sea bass regulations have been adjusted.
By Toby Lapinski  |  May 4, 2018
REVISED 2018 RECREATIONAL BLACK SEA BASS REGULATIONS ANNOUNCED
The revised management program was developed to meet the needs of the Northern Region without impacting the remaining states, while still constraining harvest to the 2018 recreational harvest limit of 3.66 million pounds. (Photo courtesy of the Frances Fleet)

Last offseason fluke were the hot-button topic species for Northeast and mid-Atlantic saltwater recreational anglers, and this year we have black sea bass taking its place. Both species have a way of igniting emotional reactions out of a wide cross-section of the angling public from private anglers to for-hires to commercials and beyond. While few put the black sea bass on the same pedestal as say, the striped bass, there is no denying its strong following.

At the February Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Council’s (ASFMC) Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board meeting, the board approved Addendum XXX to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. Using a combination of exploitable biomass distribution and historical harvest, the addendum established recreational harvest allocations for three regions: Massachusetts through New York, New Jersey as a stand-alone region, and Delaware through North Carolina. The respective allocations are 61.35%, 30.24% and 8.41% of the recreational harvest limit. The addendum passed by a vote of 6 in favor and four opposed with a regional split in the vote. (The four northern states opposed it.)

This north/south split led to much outrage from the angling public in the northern region, and The Fisherman’s Jim Hutchinson laid out the specifics of this division with Black Sea Bass - The New "War Between The States." As he noted, “The lack of parity between states liberalizing regulations by as much as 40% where others are required to reduce harvest by 11 or 12 percentage points is ultimately what prompted the northern states to sign off on a letter to the ASMFC on March 16, 2018 which appeals to the Policy Board to go back to the Management Board to initiate an addendum or amendment to that original decision. At the very least, the northern appeal asks that their sea bass reduction be cut in half for states from New York to Massachusetts; the only way to do that would be for states from the south, from New Jersey to North Carolina, to give up a portion of their increase.”

Well, here we are following the review of said appeal, and the ASMFC's Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board has issued a press release to announce that, “Upon the direction of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Interstate Fisheries Management Program (ISFMP) Policy Board, the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board approved revised 2018 recreational measures for the Northern Region states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York (see Table 1). Further, the Board initiated new management action for the 2019 black sea bass recreational fishery and tasked the Plan Development Team to develop a white paper to consider the impacts of changes in black sea bass abundance and distribution to the management of commercial and recreational fisheries.”

It further goes on to say that, “During the ISFMP Policy Board’s deliberations regarding consideration of the appeal, a potential management program for the 2018 black sea bass recreational fishery was presented to replace the allocations specified in Addendum XXX. The revised management program was developed to meet the needs of the Northern Region without impacting the remaining states, while still constraining harvest to the 2018 recreational harvest limit of 3.66 million pounds.”

What follows are the final approved 2018 black sea bass recreational measures for the member states of the ASMFC effective immediately:

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