Addendum 2: Bullets Dodged for 2024

The Striped Bass portion of the ASMFC 2024 Winter Meeting is in the books, and as many of us could have expected, the same voices who continually come to the table driven by selfish intent resumed their positions on the anti-conservation soapbox. While the final results weren’t perfect, after five contentious hours on the webinar, we have an approved Addendum II in which conservation won on many fronts.

Heading into the meeting, the public comment summary for Addendum II was a landslide (summary in each section below & full ASMFC summary document available here). Thousands of comments poured in from stakeholders, businesses and organizations from all walks of life. The vast majority called for the same thing: the most consistent and conservation-minded decisions to protect the future of this fishery.

The following blog provides a brief summary of the action on the primary sections of Addendum II. You can expect additional commentary from our team and the community in the coming days.



“The vast majority of commenters favored ocean Option B (28-31” all modes). Commenters noted this option is the most conservative option with the highest estimated reduction, which is needed to support stock rebuilding. This option would best protect the 2015-year class, particularly considering recent low recruitment and the lack of upcoming strong-year classes. Most commenters noted specific, strong opposition to any mode split options. They noted the entire recreational sector should have the same regulations and participate equally in rebuilding the stock. They also noted that all recreational anglers should have the same fishing opportunity. Some comments expressed concern that even the most conservative options would have a less than 50% chance of rebuilding the stock.”

The meeting kicked off with 3.1.1 – Ocean Recreational Options, and Dr. Armstrong moved to approve Option B: 28-31″ for all modes. Almost immediately, however, those looking to prioritize special interests over the health of the fishery began to weave webs with inaccurate accounts of the best understanding of this fishery.

Dennis Abbott from New Hampshire offered some really powerful words that we feel need to be included here: “I’m not a pastor, but today I’m going to give you a sermon. I have been sitting on the Striped Bass Board for 28 years. I’ve attended probably 70-80 Striped Bass Board meetings. Fifteen years ago, I said we were not paying attention to the canary in the coal mine. We continue to do the things that contribute to a “death by a thousand cuts.” We always take the easy path, and the easy path has taken us to where we are today. With all of these years of poor recruitment, we are in trouble with striped bass. We should be as conservation-minded as we can be. It’s patently unfair to continually advantage some while disadvantaging others. It’s time for us to us to stand together and do the right thing for the resource, not just prioritize what’s best for some community in your state. […] Most of you are state directors or biologists, and as biologists, you should be able to see what’s the right thing to do. Let’s not make striped bass into the next American Buffalo. “

Dr. Armstrong acted in favor of the will of the people and on behalf of the future of this fishery. His motion was immediately attacked. Justin Davis proposed an amendment to this motion that would kill all momentum for conservation and consistency across the fishery. The states who supported this ill-advised amendment were Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, PRFC, Maryland and Delaware. For the betterment of the fishery, they lost this vote [9-7-0-0], thanks to New Hampshire, Maine, Virginia, DC, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, NOAA Fisheries and Fish & Wildlife Service.

This was a tense start to the meeting, but thankfully, we won the first battle by a hair. When the original motion came back to the table, it passed 14-2-0-0. The only two states that held their ground against supporting conservation were New York and New Jersey. Shocking.

FINAL MOTION: Move to approve in Section 3.1.2. Ocean Recreational Fishery Option B: 1-fish at 28-31″ with 2022 seasons for all modes. Motion passes 14-2-0-0.


“The majority of comments noted support for Chesapeake Bay Option B1 (19-23” 1 fish all modes) and Option B2 (19-24” 1 fish all modes), noting either option is estimated to meet the 14.5% reduction. Most other comments supported Option B1 specifically, noting this is the most conservative option with the highest estimated reduction to support stock rebuilding. Comments also noted the need to protect the 2018-year class. Many comments noted specific opposition to mode split options, noting the entire recreational sector should have the same regulations, should contribute to rebuilding, and should have the same fishing opportunities. Many comments also noted the need for conservative Bay regulations considering recent poor recruitment in the Bay.”

The momentum from 3.1.1 – Ocean Recreational Options set the tone for the discussion around 3.1.2 – Chesapeake Bay Recreational Options. Mike Luisi made the first motion to approve option C2: a 19-24″ slot with mode split allowing an extra fish (2-fish limit) for the for-hire sector. In line with his track record for striped bass action, he chose one of the least conservative options for this critical yet struggling nursery region.

Dave Sikorski moved to substitute the motion for option B2: that same 19-24″ slot with 1-fish for all modes. As Sikorski aptly stated, “we are chasing a snowball down a hill”, citing the threat of a 2-fish limit to rebuilding potential. He also referenced how broad-reaching businesses and participation across the fishery have different goals, but the entire public owns the resource. “Until the sun shines brighter on striped bass,” he stated, “we must stop dividing. The dark days are coming. It’s time to reduce mortality.” This motion to substitute passed 13-3-0-0. The states fighting back with their heels in the sand this time were New Jersey, PRFC and Maryland.

This action was followed by a new motion by Mike Luisi to substitute for Option C2 (mode split) for 2024 and Option B2 (all modes) for 2025. This caused some confusion among Board members about the requirement to commit to his multi-year plan with a new stock assessment looming. Max Appelman from NOAA Fisheries made a point of information to clarify if this motion would be for 2025 and beyond. Luisi confirmed that he intended for B2 to take action on January 01, 2025 and be in place until the Board took action to change otherwise. This substitution failed 4-12-0-0.

In an almost unbelievable response to back-to-back failures, Luisi again came back to the table again with the same substitution, instead using Option C1 (mode split) for 2024 and Option B2 (all modes) for 2025. This was shockingly seconded by Justin Davis, calling it a “reasonable compromise”. This relentless commitment to prioritizing some anglers over others speaks volumes about their views of the fishery. Thankfully, the fishery won yet again, as this motion failed: 6-9-0-1. The nine honorable votes came from New Hampshire, Maine, PRFC, Virginia, DC, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, NOAA and Massachusetts.

The only two states that opposed the original motion when all was said and done were New Jersey and Maryland.

FINAL MOTION: Move to approve in Section 3.1.2. Chesapeake Bay Recreational Fishery Option B2: 19-24″ slot, 1-fish for all modes, 2022 seasons. Motion passes 14-2-0-0.


“The majority of comments support Option B (up to 14.5% quota reduction), with most comments supporting the full 14.5% quota reduction for both the ocean and Chesapeake Bay commercial fisheries. Comments noted that all sectors should take an equal reduction to rebuild the stock. Some comments noted the reduction should be taken from landings, not from the quota.”

Dr. Armstrong brought another conservation-focused motion to the table to start the commercial sector conversation. This motion would create a 14% reduction from Ocean and Chesapeake Bay 2022 quotas with 2022 size limits. Immediately, a substitute motion was made by John Clark (DE) to maintain status quo commercial quotas. We could’ve predicted the talking points that followed almost word for word. Fingers were pointed at recreational release mortality, claiming that the commercial sector is being “squeezed to the point of not being able to make a living [off commercial striper fishing].” The cries for special treatment with total disregard for the status of the coastwide fishery continued:

“Why should you have to go out and catch fish to actually be able to eat striped bass? A little old lady back in town should still have access to enjoying some striper!”

“The commercial industry has already been too constrained by its quota!”

“Yes, everyone will benefit from an increase of population of striped bass, but…”

“Striped bass are a specialty boutique market and if we reduce the commercial market too much, it will never bounce back.”

“I keep hearing inflammatory language like ’emergency action’ and ‘dark times’. I don’t see an emergency!”, followed shortly after by, “the state of our quotas is dire” and “this decision is radical!”

“Inflammatory language” was clearly not off limits for other perspectives. We heard it all. The same stuff, like a broken record. While it would be quite simple to poke holes in all of this short-sighted commentary, we’ll keep our response focused on a singular topic we continue to hear time and time again: MRIP and effort changes.

Calculations that should be considered when referencing effort data…

As you may recall, NOAA did a pilot study to review MRIP. That study found that due to the order of the survey questions, MRIP may have been overestimating recreational effort by somewhere around 40%. NOAA is doing a more comprehensive study this year to assess the situation. We won’t know for sure until 2025.

Please look at the formula above. Let’s say for a moment that the pilot study is correct. If MRIP reported our catches to be 6.9 million fish in 2022. The re calibrated number would be 4.14 million fish. The number of fish in the ocean would also change from 34.5 million to 20.7 million. Release mortality would be lower in numbers of dead fish but not as an overall percentage of total mortality.

You know what wouldn’t plummet? Commercial harvest. In fact, it would significantly increase the commercial portion of total removals. No more playing the “we’re barely even a blip on the radar of this fishery!” card. There is a high likelihood that this is what we will find out in 2025. Most commissioners understand this, and that is why it is shocking that so many went on record saying that commercial harvest was minimal.

Delaware’s substitution for status quo fell short, only garnering additional support from Virginia and New York [3-13-0-0]. This failed effort was followed by a motion to substitute the total reduction for commercial from 14% to 7%. While we recognize many advocates may find it disappointing that a lowered commercial reduction of 7% passed, you rest assured knowing that Addendum II is simply the bridge to the next stock assessment and that the fishery dodged many bullets today. This new motion passed [8-6-0-2]. The states who went on record against the 7% reduction were New Hampshire, Maine, DC, North Carlonia, Pennsylvia and Connecticut.

FINAL MOTION: Move to approve in Section 3.2.1 Commercial Quota Reduction Option B: 7% reduction from Ocean and Chesapeake Bay 2022 quotas with 2022 size limits.


“The majority of comments support Option B (Board action process) noting the need for quick, decisive action by the Board following stock assessments to rebuild the stock and quickly implement new measures. Some commenters noted that while they support a fast process, opportunities for public comment should be clearly communicated.”

While there was some combative chatter, this section of the meeting was somewhat streamlined. Justin Davis motioned to implement Option B, which aligned with the majority of public comments. Many Board members recognized the need for “agility” and the ability to respond to stock assessments in the future. This passed [11-5-0-0] and then things got really interesting…

FINAL MOTION: Move to approve in Section 3.3 Response to Stock Assessments Option B: Board could respond via Board action to change management measures by voting to pass a motion at a Board meeting. Motion made by Dr. Davis, second by Mr. Borden. Passes 11-5-0-0.


While some listeners may have let their guard down at this point in the meeting, assuming that all the major decisions for Addendum II were set in stone, the debate around implementation timelines is where a sneaky effort to protect the commercial sector took place. The conversation began with a motion from Dr. Armstrong to approve the following compliance schedule: States must submit implementation plans by March 1, 2024. The Board will review and consider approving implementation plans in March 2024. States must implement regulations by May 1, 2024. This was seconded by Mr. Borden.

This reasonable approach to implementation was subverted using the “difficulies of printing/recalling tags”, amongst other minutiae, to conceal an agenda to minimize commercial reductions even more than the already achieved 7%. The strategy was simple: if you say you can’t implement until 2025 due to material constraints, then you get a free pass of no reductions for 2024. In theory, this would cut the commercial reduction roughly in half again, over the course of the next two seasons.

Conservation-minded board members could tell there were games afoot and spoke up against the campaign, calling to see that 7% reduction one way or another. Others pointed out potential penalties that commercial anglers would feel in 2025 if they did not implement new quotas in 2024. In those scenarios, they would likely have to pay that overharvest back in 2025. This was a nerve-wracking stretch in the meeting. We knew the vote was going to be close. Thankfully, the motion to ammend implementation until 2025 failed in a [7-7-0-2] vote, due to lack of majority. It was nice to see one of the “strategic little games of striped bass special interests” fall flat on its face. We hope to see more of that in the future.

The final vote on Dr. Armstrong’s original motion passed with support from New Hampshire, Maine, DC, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Delaware, Maryland, PRFC and Virginia stood together on the other side under a grey cloud.

FINAL MOTION: Move to approve the following compliance schedule: States must submit implementation plans by March 1, 2024. The Board will review and consider approving implementation plans in March 2024. States must implement regulations by May 1, 2024. Motion by Dr. Armstrong, second by Mr Borden. Motion passes 10-4-0-2.


We can’t thank you all enough for taking the time to participate at this level in the management of this fishery. The striped bass advocate community is like no other. That is no exaggeration. Highly educated and well-versed in the nuance of a coastwide, migratory fishery, which is heavily influenced by special interests. ASGA advocated for the initiation of Addendum II and we’re largely happy with how most of it played out. Sure, the final Addendum II may not be perfect, but it was never going to be the golden path to saving this fishery. The rubber will meet the road after the next stock assessment. We’ll be there, and we know you will be too. Together, we’re going to fight to protect this iconic resource. Not just for ourselves, but for the next generation.

Have any questions or comments? Leave them on this blog below or message us at If we answer them on The Guide Post Podcast, you will win some epic gear from our brand sponsors. We are able to offer this incentive because all those amazing brands know that their businesses, and the lives of their core customers, rely on abundant coastal fisheries. We won’t stop fighting for them.

6 Responses

  1. Fishing for salmon in Canada for over 20 years now, I was able to see how the St. Jean striper revival has been extremely successful in the Maritimes.
    Many would say, too successful as it has now impacted the salmon fishery.
    The point is, that a strict moritorium on the taking of striped bass has resulted in a potential commercial fishery which is now sustainable and healthy.
    The point made by the ASA president regarding Atlantic Salmon rings true for the striped bass as well. “Do we really need to kill fish to enjoy the fishery which we cherish”.
    The nearsighted attitude of commercial fishing is poised to decimate the saltwater fishery as we know it. It is the rather simple mathematics of past history that tells us this is true.
    It is no secret that this politically charged issue leaves any attempt at conservation without the help of government officials, who fear the backlash from the commercial industry that pours money into their campaigns.
    Like climate change, it is an unpleasant, yet undeniable reality that we are facing the most critical tipping point in the survivability of many saltwater species.
    When will we learn that the question of our future fishery rests solely with us and the need to address it is now.

  2. Hi Folks,
    Other than my recent post congratulating Carl and Ryan’s families on their recent and pending additions, I haven’t posted here in a dog’s age.
    I wish I could share in the posted optimism regarding the Board’s recent approval of Addendum II but in my opinion, this action is going to do little to stem what I feel is a Bass crisis that will exceed the collapse of the ’70s and ’80s. The response to that crisis created a restoration effort that has been characterized as one of the most successful fishery management efforts ever. I’m proud of the fact I was a participant in that effort, sharing with fellow fishcrats, commercial and recreational fisherpeople, conservationists, and concerned citizens the common goal of getting this magnificent resource back from the edge of oblivion.
    Back then the bass were suffering from several years of poor spawning and gross overfishing. It doesn’t take rocket scientists to realize that overharvesting immature 16″ females along the coast and 12″ males in the spawning areas could be problematic. The essence of the emerging plan was to assure protection of at least half of spawning fish with the 28″ coastal size limit (females) and 18″ spawning area limit (males)”. That foundation was supported by conservative harvest rates, required states monitoring programs and most important, The Atlantic Coast Striped Bass Act, which gave the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission the authority to require states compliance with the Plan or face no fishing. Atlantic Striped bass were declared recovered in the ’90s and have provided abundant recreation and healthy food until the last 10 years. when a host of problems have arisen.
    Moving from history to the present one is inclined to ask what’s so different from then and the present? Back then we were confronted with no adults and no spawning .
    Presently we’ve got plenty of spawners but several years of poor spawning in the Chesapeake topped by the lowest 2023 spawning ever measured in the Hudson, the source of an estimated 20% of Atlantic migratory fish.
    The two primary trigger parameters of the plan which require remediation are stock removal (fishing rate ) and stock size (Spawning stock biomass.) Recently both triggers were pulled resulting in the actions you are all too familiar with. Shortly thereafter the number crunchers concluded that overfishing was no longer occurring but the stock although large enough to produce a successful year class, was still below the optimum level.
    Whoops, it looks like I’m creating this thread on a website that’s running out of space so I’m going to post this and start a new thread. Sorry about that

  3. How do we change Mike Louisi’s viewpoint? An eyeglass for his bellybutton? Who does he work for and how do we get them to change their mind?

  4. As a Maryland resident and striped bass fisherman, I am trying to figure out the politics of Maryland’s representation on the ASMFC. Looking at the proceedings of Oct’s ASMFC meeting. it indicates that Luisi is serving as the proxy for Lynn Waller Fegley, Director, Fishing and Boating Services MD DNR. Brown is the proxy for the governor’s appointee Russell Dize. Dave Sikorski is the proxy for the legislative’s appointee delegate Dana Stein. Luisi is also an employee of MD DNR.

    Dave Sikorski is the director of MD CCA and he is for striped bass conservation.

    Mike Luisi is MD DNR’s Fisheries Monitoring and Assessment Division Director. He is clearly not for striped bass conservation. What is Lynn Waller Fegley’s connection? How do we get to her?

    Robert T. Brown is the president of the Executive Committee for MD Waterman’s Association. Russell Dize is the 1st Vice President. Not for striped bass conservation. Who in the State House do we need look to for a change in leadership?

    How do we engage with the new Governor? It looks like the game in the Chesapeake is rigged and it doesn’t seem reasonable that we are forced to rely on other states to help regulate our resource.

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