Earlier this week, news broke that the historic Marthas’ Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby will remove all striped bass categories for this year’s contest. While striped bass continue to be overfished and subject to overfishing, and states like New Jersey and Maryland are actively undermining recovery efforts, the 75 year old tournament prioritizing the long-term conservation of these fish is refreshing.
In a press release, the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby Committee wrote:
“Recreational fishing communities and fisheries scientists understand the unequaled value of striped bass. The Derby shares this view, and acknowledges the importance of supporting measures to restore healthy striped bass stocks…Because of the obvious significance of striped bass – to the recreational fishing community and to the Derby – we strongly believe that the responsible decision is to completely remove it as an eligible species in the 2020 Derby, including any catch and release component…The Derby Committee is proud to have played an influential role in the recovery of the striped bass. When we excluded the striper from our tournament in 1985, it may have been only symbolic, but it sent a message to sportfishing contests and enthusiasts that without a good management plan, this treasured resource would be no more.”
Abbie Schuster of Kismet Outfitters, a fishing guide on Martha’s Vineyard, had this to say: “I am so glad the Derby is growing with the times and eliminating stripers from the competition. The Derby is a great Martha’s Vineyard tradition for all ages. This will help ensure the next generation has opportunities to enjoy this amazing resource. The Derby should be leaders in this industry and I am glad they took a strong stance.” We agree, Abbie!
As someone who has fished the Derby, I commend the Derby Committee on this difficult, yet necessary and responsible, decision. Now, all one can hope for is other catch and kill striped bass tournaments to follow suit.
In other news, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission met yesterday about the upcoming Striped Bass regulations–be on the lookout for a article on what happened shortly!