The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Striped Bass Management Board has initiated development of a draft addendum aimed at reducing the mortality of striped bass coastwide by up to 40% and further protecting the species’ spawning stock when it is concentrated and vulnerable. According to an ASMFC press release, development of the addendum was initiated to allow managers to promptly respond to the results of the next stock assessment, if the assessment warranted immediate action.
The press release also states that the addendum was initiated in response to recent trends to the fishery and resource, including a 66% decline in the estimated recreational catch of stripers from 2006 to 2009, a 25% decline in estimated striped bass abundance from 2004 to 2008 and reduced recruitment (fewer fish entering the population) in recent years. Fishermen and environmentalists from states in the northern extent of the species’ range have expressed concern over the decreasing availability of striped bass, perhaps a result of the diminished water quality of Chesapeake Bay during the summer months that may be contributing to the increased prevalence of the fatal disease mycobacteriosis in stripers.
The draft addendum will propose a range of management measures including, but not limited to, adjustments to the minimum size, reductions in commercial allocations, reductions in recreational bag limits and limits on fishing in known spawning areas during the spawning season.
The draft addendum will be developed for preliminary review by the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board in August. If approved, new measures could be in place for 2012.
“Given the downward trend of the striped bass fishery in northern New England, this is the first good news about potential proactive management changes we’ve seen in a long time,” said Maine fishing guide Peter Fallon.
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