Spring 2023 ASMFC Meeting Preview: Stripers, Albies, and More

Pivotal decision point for striped bass and an opportunity to develop precautionary management for false albacore and Atlantic bonito. 

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will meet this week (May 1-3, 2023) for its spring meeting. Now most of you likely know that striped bass is the major agenda item, but there are some additional agenda items that are worth keeping tabs on. For the last few weeks, ASGA met with many ASMFC commissioners to lay out our positions and learn how commissioners are thinking. This blog will highlight the important agenda items and provide an update on our efforts—follow along! 

Also, a huge thank you to everyone who signed-on to our striped bass letter. In total we received 3311 signatures in total which breaks down into: 2,975 private anglers, 196 fishing guides, and 142 businesses/brands. We appreciate every single signature. If the Striped Bass Management Board doesn’t initiate a management protocol to continue rebuilding, our trust in their ability to manage this fishery will be shattered.  

Striped Bass 

For us at ASGA—and most anglers along the East coast, the Striped Bass Management Board meeting will be the marquee event. This is also evidenced by the over 3,000 signatures ASGA received for our letter, which was included for supplemental meeting materials. This meeting will begin Tuesday morning at 8:30am and is scheduled to end at 12:30pm—we’ll see if the Striped Bass Board can hold to that schedule, as there is a lot to get through. 

  • First and most importantly, the Board will review the Technical Committee’s projections on rebuilding and consider management action. For more on this topic, check out this blog or listen to this podcast. After our discussions with Board members, the ASGA Team is feeling very confident that the Board will initiate an Addendum to ensure rebuilding occurs by 2029. That being said, there is a possibility that a more conservative outcome materializes, and the Board acts more decisively to protect the 2015-year class—keep that on your radar, but we really aren’t sure how that conversation will go. 
  • Admittedly, we don’t have a crystal ball telling us what the new regulations may or may not look like. Based on conversations, however, there does seem to be continued support for a slot limit. So, our best guess would be the Board shifts or shrinks the slots to protect the 2015s—and hopefully the 2017s and 2018s. Also, there may be a real effort to tackle the recreational release mortality component of removals; we remain firm in our position that no-targeting closures do not make sense throughout much of the striped bass range, outside of spatially specific closures where environmental factors will disproportionately increase mortality. Additionally, we hope that Board members seeking to reduce discards take a look at the new science on catch and release developed by Mass Department of Marine Fisheries. 
  • Also, the Board will consider Addendum 1—commercial ocean quota transfers—which was postponed back at the Winter ASMFC Meeting. Through the TC Memo, we learned that commercial quota transfers and maximizing commercial quota utilization do have a negative impact on rebuilding; however, yes, the increase in recreational harvest in 2022, was the primary contributor to decreasing the rebuilding probabilities. Regardless, the Board is scheduled to reconsider this topic, and it’s ASGA’s opinion that the Board will dispense of this topic and remain focused on the challenge at hand of rebuilding the stock by 2029. 

False Albacore and Atlantic Bonito

We have a real opportunity to proactively develop precautionary management for false albacore and Atlantic bonito. On Wednesday, May 3rd, the ASMFC Policy Board will consider paths forward for managing these two species. ASGA’s letter and the literature reviews (False Albacore and Atlantic Bonito)we commissioned were included in the supplemental comments. 

  • The biggest argument in opposition of proactive fisheries management is usually resource-driven, such as prioritizing staff time on more pressing (reactive) issues. However, ASGA is of the opinion that this opportunity with false albacore and Atlantic bonito would not be a huge lift for Commission staff—especially considering the fact that we already paid for and shared two literature reviews on these species. The way we see it, after the ASMFC develops hypothetical fishery management plans, the Commission could implement recreational and commercial regulations—even somewhat liberal—until we know more about these important fisheries. 
  • This is the first step in the process towards developing management, but we need to establish and maintain interest at the Commission. Through our conversations with Commissioners, there does seem to be an appetite for being proactive and developing guardrails for these species.


The Menhaden Board will meet Monday, May 1st, at 2:45pm. This meeting will mostly consist of presentation and science updates, but there still may be important discussions. For example, we will receive an update on two menhaden stock assessments—the single-species and Ecological Reference Point models. The ERP model determines how many menhaden need to be left in the water to sustain predators such as striped bass, bluefish, and ospreys. The greater these populations grow, the more menhaden are to be conserved for the ecosystem. Also, the Administrative Commissioner from Virginia will give a presentation about the state’s Menhaden fishery, which has become controversial due to the reduction fleet’s operation in the Chesapeake Bay. 


The Sciaenid Board deals with the drum family. This includes black drum, spot, croaker, red drum, and weakfish. As ASGA continues to grow and expand, we will include management actions on sciaenids, especially redfish in 2023. These species are important to a growing number of our members and thus important to ASGA.  

Black drum will be covered in this meeting in addition to some important decisions on spot and croaker as well.  

Those are the primary meetings we’ll be keeping tabs on, but the ASGA Team will report out what happened at this meeting as soon as we can. In the meantime, thank you all again for supporting our efforts to encourage the ASMFC to be precautionary with these incredibly important fisheries and for lending your voice.

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