Friday, September 19, 2014

Striper Harvest Restrictions in the Works

Expect changes in regs for East Coast stripers
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is seeking public comment on its proposed draft addendum to the fishery management plan for stripers. ASMFC wants to develop a range of management measures that reduce fishing mortality. At its May meeting, the panel continued the development of Draft Addendum IV to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic striped bass by adding consideration of a three-year time frame to reduce fish harvest levels. Options include quota reductions for the commercial fishery and bag, size, slot and trophy size limits for recreational fisheries.

Public hearings are planned in several states along the coast where stripers are found — they generally migrate up and down the coast with the coolest water conditions that they prefer. For instance, in high summer, striper fishing is best on the Maine coast; by November, some of the best fishing is at the Outer Banks.
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The Draft Addendum is available at Public input can be provided at state hearings or by writing: Mike Waine, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; or by email at by Sept. 30.

According to reports, the commission is looking at a 25 percent reduction in the striped bass harvest to address a stock assessment through 2012 that showed female spawning numbers and the overall striper population are nearing a threshold of being overfished. The striped bass assessment showed female spawning stock numbers have been declining since 2006, and fishing mortality in 2012 was above a proposed target level.

Following a moratorium on striped bass fishing in the late 1980s, the commission has generally taken a cautious approach with striped bass management. The draft addendum proposes management measures designed to reduce striper mortality to a level at or below the proposed target within one or three years.

The proposal includes a series of management options aimed at reducing recreational and commercial harvest along the coast and in the Chesapeake Bay under three time frames: reducing striper mortality to its target level in one year through a 25 percent harvest reduction; reducing mortality to target levels within three years with a 17 percent reduction in 2015; reducing mortality to the target level within three years via 7 percent harvest reductions in each of the next three years.
It has been apparent to many of us who fish for stripers in the Chesapeake that the populations now are not as healthy as they were a few years ago, and that some restrictions on harvest were coming. If you're aiming at a 25% reduction, just go to a 25% reduction; don't pussyfoot around with half measures.

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