Commission approves reduction in striped bass catch limits

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The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Striped Bass Management Board voted 11 to four to require an 18 percent reduction in striped bass removals by the recreational and commercial fishing sectors from North Carolina to Maine.

A coalition of fishing and boating organizations is lauding this decision to address the decline in striped bass after it was determined in 2018 that the population is overfished.

To further reduce release mortality, the commissioners unanimously approved mandatory use of circle hooks when fishing with bait, to be implemented in 2021.

“We appreciate ASMFC for recognizing the value of the sportfishing and boating industry in their decision to act quickly to end overfishing of striped bass,” said Mike Waine, Atlantic fisheries policy director for the American Sportfishing Association, in a statement. “The focus now turns to the states along the Atlantic coast to work cooperatively and follow through with ASMFC’s commitment to treat the sectors fairly. It’s time to rebuild the striped bass population, and the recreational fishing community stands ready to support these actions for the economic benefit of the entire striped bass fishing community.”

Striped bass are one of the most sought-after fish on the Atlantic coast, said David Sikorski, executive director of the Maryland Coastal Conservation Association.

“Recreational anglers are key partners in the conservation and management of our fisheries resources, and we will be keenly focused on ensuring that the state of Maryland crafts conservation measures which will maximize the in-water benefit to the fish and recognize the many positive economic benefits that recreational fishing provides,” Sikorski said.

States may submit for approval of alternative regulations that better suit their striped bass population but must achieve an 18 percent reduction in total removals. ASMFC aims to reduce striped bass removals by 18 percent coast-wide by implementing the following regulations in 2020:

  • one fish bag limit and a 28- to 35-inch recreational slot limit per day for ocean recreational fisheries
  • One fish bag limit and an 18-inch minimum size limit per day for Chesapeake Bay recreational fisheries
  • reduction in all state commercial quotas by 18 percent

According to an ASMFC news release, states are required to submit implementation plans by Nov. 30 for review by the technical committee and approval by the board in February 2020. States must implement mandatory circle hook requirements by Jan. 1, 2021. All other provisions of Addendum VI must be implemented by April 1, 2020.

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