ASMFC Summer Meeting: Striped Bass, Menhaden, Herring, and Drum

By Tony Friedrich, VP/Policy Director

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will hold their summer meeting from August 2-4. The agenda will cover several species of interest.

On the first day and probably of most interest, will be striped bass. The Board will start at 1:30 and is scheduled to go until 5 PM. Here is the link if you would like to follow along virtually. The agenda is below.

Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board  Supplemental

  • Welcome/Call to Order (M. Gary)
  • Board Consent
    • Approval of Agenda
    • Approval of Proceedings from May 2022
  • Public Comment
  • Consider Fishery Management Plan Review and State Compliance for the 2021 Fishing Year (E. Franke) Action
  • Progress Update and Board Guidance on 2022 Stock Assessment Update
  • Technical Committee Report (K. Drew)
  • Provide Guidance to Technical Committee for Management Options to Consider if the Assessment Indicates Reduction is Needed for Rebuilding
  • Discuss Timeline for Responding to the Assessment
  • Consider Next Steps for Draft Addendum I on Quota Transfers (formerly Draft Addendum VII) Possible Action
    • Motion from October 2021: Move to defer until May 2022 consideration by the Atlantic Striped Bass Board of Draft Addendum VII to Amendment 6 to allow further development and review of the transfer options.
  • Other Business/Adjourn

Make sure and check the link for the supplemental materials. There are some telling details included in that document. One of the charts that jumped out to us was recreational harvest by state for 2020 and 2021. If you recall, Addendum VI to Amendment 6 required an 18% reduction in removals.

New Jersey submitted an outlandish number of conservation equivalency proposals. They also advocated and got the 18% reduction by state rather than coastwide. When the numbers came out, it was still shocking to see they overfished by 76% in 2021 instead of taking the 18% reduction that frankly wasn’t enough in the first place for NJ.

Where exactly is the accountability in all of this? The chart below shows why we pushed so hard to get rid of conservation equivalency. Imagine having the “flexibility” to manage the most important fish on the East Coast by using data in ways it was never intended to be used, overfishing a depleted stock, and having no repercussions. If you can imagine all of that, then you understand New Jersey.

Table

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Some other interesting facts came out in the supplemental materials. New Jersey and Maryland recreationally harvested 74% of the total recreational take in 2021. In comparison, Massachusetts only harvested 10% while New York came in at 8%. How much longer are we going to allow two states to consume the fishery?

Total recreational harvest (A+B1) in 2021 is estimated at 1.82 million fish (15.7 million pounds),and represents a 6% increase relative to 2020 (5% increase by weight) (Tables 9-10). New Jersey landed the largest proportion of recreational harvest in number of fish7 (42%), followed by Maryland (32%), Massachusetts (10%), and New York (8%) (Table 10). The proportion of recreational harvest in numbers from Chesapeake Bay was estimated at 35% in 2021, compared to 46% in 2020.

The final number that jumped out at us was the commercial harvest in the Chesapeake. The three jurisdictions, Virginia, PRFC, and Maryland, accounted for 81% of the total commercial harvest. Does this even begin to make sense? We aren’t so sure.

We all know that the assessment is coming out in October. One of the items on the agenda is a discussion about a timeline for response to the assessment. We aren’t sure why that is on there. That issue has already been decided with the motion from Mike Armstrong, Mass DMF. Mike initiated a motion that would allow the board to act swiftly. This motion passed. We may be reading into this too much but better to be aware of it than get broadsided.

The final thing to note about striped bass is this quote from the supplemental material.

For the 2022 review of JAIs, the analysis evaluates the 2019, 2020, and 2021 JAI values per the Amendment 7 recruitment trigger. One state (Maryland) met the criteria of the Amendment 7 recruitment trigger (Figure 8). Maryland’s JAI values for 2019 (1.95), 2020 (1.12), and 2021 (1.65) were below the Maryland JAI trigger level of 4.16. Since this trips the recruitment trigger in 2022, F reference points using the low recruitment assumption will be calculated. Because 2022 is a stock assessment year, that reference point calculation and trigger evaluation will be part of the 2022 assessment update (results expected in October 2022).

The Maryland Juvenile Abundance Index (JAI), sometimes referred to as Young of the Year (YOY) was below the trigger level. Remember when we advocated for strong triggers? This is why. Strong triggers make managers accountable for stock status.

Other meetings of interest will include menhaden, Atlantic herring, and sciaenids (drum family). As always, we will let you know what happens. Be on the lookout for a podcast and blog recap after the meeting.

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