Earlier this week at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Spring Meeting, the Striped Bass Board took two pivotal actions to increase the odds of rebuilding the stock. Striped bass have been overfished since 2019 and were projected to rebuild by the 2029 deadline, but recreational harvest skyrocketed in 2022, destroying the probability of rebuilding. That harvest increase was due to the 2015 year class (one of the best on record) entering the slot limit and thus becoming available for harvest. The American Saltwater Guides Association is the leading voice when it comes to striped bass and advocating for precautionary, science-backed management and had been drumming up support for the ASMFC to take action, and that the ASMFC did.
The ASMFC’s Striped Bass Board approved two critical actions. First, it initiated Addendum II to change rec and commercial regulations for 2024. However, that would’ve left the 2015s in the slot for 2023, and harvest would’ve likely increased over the doubling in 2022. So, the Board also instituted an Emergency Action to change the coastal slot limit from 28-35″ to 28-31″, effectively moving the 2015s out of the harvestable slot limit. These 2015s are essential for successfully rebuilding and continuing to exploit them at this rate would’ve doomed rebuilding.
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“The conservation community spoke, and our voice was heard”, said Tony Friedrich, ASGA’s VP and Policy Director. “Fisheries management is a long arduous process. Science informed us that there was little to no chance of rebuilding the stock under the current system. We unified the community with one voice that demanded a better future for the resource and our children. Thanks to every angler, brand, and guide who spoke up and to the conservation-minded Striped Bass Board members who voted for the health of the resource.”
For more information about striped bass and why these historic actions were needed, check out ASGA’s blog. Good on the Striped Bass Board for doing the right thing to conserve and rebuild this stock and to everyone who weighed in!
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