Anglers who were rolling hog happy in the sheer numbers of striped bass last fall are on track for piscatorial future shock. What’s come down is a 43 percent increase in commercial striper harvest, approved last December by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission under Amendment 6 to the Striped Bass Act. The move came despite the contrary recommendations of advisory panels to ASMFC, and it means 97,000 pounds (or 65,000 fish) are potentially toast–or maybe sushi.
Commercial catch increase will come at the expense of the striper spawning stock. Never mind that the public will catch yet fewer large fish. Older bass provide a safety net for the population, seeing it through poor spawn years or catastrophic events.
Further, ASMFC recently asked the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to look at opening the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)–waters 3 to 200 miles off shore–to striped bass harvest. That would expose sanctuaries of the largest fish, further impacting the population. To open the EEZ it must be shown that state striper management would not be disrupted. A series of public hearings will be announced by NMFS. The Coastal Conservation Association has requested an environmental impact study on the issue. You can help and keep current on the process. Contact the CCA at 800-201-FISH. –Jerry Gibbs
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