In the three weeks since The Fisherman Magazine posted official details regarding upcoming Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC Public Hearings on Atlantic Striped Bass Scheduled), we’ve received quite a few emails from friends and readers regarding information they’ve since seen posted on social media.

One in particular was the bold headline from an organization based in Maine called Stripers Forever that calls for a 10-year moratorium on harvesting striped bass.  Many folks refer to the online organization as a “non-for-profit” yet according to group’s website they are not recognized by the IRS with official 501(c)(3) non-profit status, and as such donations made to Stripers Forever “may not be tax deductible.”

The key question many anglers have regarding a moratorium is this – if there were a 10-year ban on striped bass harvest could saltwater anglers still enjoy a catch and release fishery?  Considering the fact that there’s a 9% mortality rate on striped bass that are caught and released, that means there’s still a harvest “mortality” attached with any directed effort, so the answer is “probably not!”

But a total moratorium is just one organization’s opinion on striped bass management; there will be others pitched in these hearings, some popular, others less so.  But it’s important to remember that striped bass cannot be harvested for sale outside of 3 miles from shore in federal waters, so it’s reasonable to state that striped bass is considered a true gamefish at the federal level.  Additionally in New Jersey, since commercial fishing “for” and sale “of” striped bass has been banned for more than 30 years, it’s easy to call striped bass the most important gamefish in the New Jersey, Delaware Bay region.

Which brings us to the upcoming virtual public hearings along the Atlantic Coast related to the Atlantic Striped Bass Draft Amendment 7 Public Information Document, referred to as the PID.  The purpose of the PID is to solicit stakeholder input on prioritizing the importance of the following management topics related to striped bass:

(1) Fishery Goals And Objectives

(2) Biological Reference Points

(3) Management Triggers

(4) Stock Rebuilding Targets And Schedule

(5) Regional Management

(6) Management Program Equivalency, Or Conservation Equivalency

(7) Recreational Release Mortality

(8) Recreational Accountability

(9) Coastal Commercial Quota Allocation

(10) Other Issues Raised In Public Comments.

So how do these 10 points break out?  And what would changes to striped bass management contained in adjustments to any of these 10 management topics mean for recreational fishermen in the coming years?  Hopefully, these points will be addressed in the upcoming virtual hearings presented by the ASMFC in our tri-state region related to the ongoing and future management of Atlantic striped bass.

Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife

Tuesday, March 16 (6-8 p.m.)

Contact: John Clark 302-739-9108

New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation

Tuesday, March 23 (6-8p.m.)

Contact: Maureen Davison, 631-444-0483

New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife

Thursday, March 25 (6-8p.m.)

Contact: Joe Cimino, 609-748-2020

To register for one of these three public hearings go to Public Hearing Registration and select the hearing(s) you plan to attend from the dropdown menu. Hearings will be held via GoToWebinar, which can be accessed using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

When connecting to audio, ASMFC is strongly encouraging participants to use computer voice over internet (VoIP) so you can ask questions and provide input. To attend the webinar in listen only mode, dial 213-929-4232 and enter access code 527-210-568. Those joining by phone only will be limited to listening to the presentation and will not be able to provide input at the hearing.

For technical assistance setting up and logging into GoToWebinar, contact Toni Kerns at 703-842-0718.

If you are connected only by phone in listen only mode, you will not show up as a webinar attendee. In the event that there are no webinar attendees, the public hearing will be cancelled unless state staff request that the hearing content is presented.

The Commission will also post a recording of the hearing presentation on the Commission’s YouTube page so that stakeholders may watch the presentation and submit comment at any time during the comment process.

Fishermen are encouraged to provide input on the PID either by attending one of these virtual public hearings or providing written comment. The PID is available at asmfc.org or via the Commission’s website at asmfc.org. Public comment will be accepted until 5 PM (EST) on April 9, 2021 and should be forwarded to Emilie Franke, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite 200A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703-842-0741 (FAX) or at [email protected] (Subject line: Striped Bass PID).

If your organization is planning to release an action alert in response to the PID, please contact Emilie Franke at 703-842-0740, so she can work with you to develop a unique subject line to enable ASMFC to better organize and summarize incoming comments for Board review.

The Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board will meet at the Commission’s 2021 Spring Meeting in May to consider public comment and provide direction to staff for items to be included in Draft Amendment 7. For more information, please contact Emilie Franke, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at [email protected] or 703-842-0740.