The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) wants your input on Draft Addendum I to Amendment 7 to the Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan. This addendum would allow voluntary commercial quota transfers between states. If you live in Massachusetts or Rhode Island and you love to fish for striped bass, you may want to set aside some time this week to listen and potentially weigh in.

There are two main arguments for and against this measure. Recreational anglers are mostly opposed to the change, citing the fact that commercial fishermen are targeting the biggest and most robust spawners in the biomass and the fact that one state can’t reach its quota means that there are not enough fish in the biomass to sustain the current quota. Those in favor of the change, mostly commercial fishermen, have argued that the quota is set as a coastwide limit and transferring quota would ensure that we are utilizing the fishery in accordance with what ASMFC feels is right and sustainable.

As with all things relating to striped bass and their management, these meetings will, almost certainly, produce some heavy and impassioned debate, but hearing both sides of the argument and putting them up against the accepted science is one of the ways that ASMFC makes informed decisions on behalf of all anglers. We, here at The Fisherman Magazine, urge all of you to register for and attend these meetings, the more people and opinions there are, the clearer the picture becomes on how the majority really feels about the subject at hand.

The Board initiated Draft Addendum I in August 2021 after deciding that changes to the striped bass commercial quota system would not be considered during the ongoing development of Amendment 7. With the adoption of Amendment 7 earlier this year, the Board re-initiated discussions on Draft Addendum I to consider voluntary ocean quota transfers, which could provide some relief to states seeking additional quota. The Draft Addendum proposes a range of options that would permit voluntary transfers of ocean commercial quota, including options based on stock status and options allowing the Board to set criteria for transfers on a regular basis.

Both the Rhode Island (December 14, 6 to 8 p.m.) and Massachusetts (December 19, 6 to 8 p.m.) meetings are being presented as webinars, meaning everyone attending will have to do so virtually. Please note that in order to comment during virtual webinar hearings you will need to use your computer or download the GoToWebinar app for your phone. Those joining by phone only will be limited to listening to the presentation and will not be able to provide input. In those cases, you can send your comments to staff via email or U.S. mail at any time during the public comment period (through January 13, 2023). To attend the webinar in listen only mode, dial 213-493-0005 and enter access code 199-116-984.

For those planning to attend, please click HERE and select the hearing(s) you plan to attend from the dropdown menu to register for a public hearing webinar. Hearings will be held via GoToWebinar, and you can join the webinar from your computer, tablet or smartphone. We recommend you register for the hearing well in advance of the hearing since GoToWebinar will provide you with a link to test your device’s compatibility with the webinar. If you find your device is not compatible, please contact the Commission at [email protected] (subject line: GoToWebinar help) and they will try to get you connected. It is also strongly encouraged that participants use the computer voice over internet (VoIP) so you can ask questions and provide input at the hearing.

For those looking to provide public comment, follow THIS LINK where you will find all the info you need on Addendum 1 and how to submit your comments. All those interested in the management of Atlantic striped bass are encouraged to provide input either by participating in public hearings, which may be conducted via webinar, or providing written comment. Public comment will be accepted until 11:59 PM (EST) on January 13, 2023 and should be sent to Emilie Franke, FMP Coordinator, at 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, Virginia 22201; or at [email protected] (Subject line: Striped Bass Draft Addendum I).