Striped Bass Preliminary Numbers Tell the Tale

Tony Friedrich VP/Policy Director


We read your comments on social media. Many of you feel that our blogs are too dense when we discuss the science and policy of striped bass. We hear you. This one doesn’t have to be that way. The issue is cut and dry.

The last striped bass blog detailed our concerns about the stock will rebuild by 2029. The rebuilding plan was based on low fishing mortality numbers (how many fish die from fishing in a given year).

2020 and 2021 were the only harvest numbers that could be used to determine rebuilding probabilities because that is when the slot limit started (this dealt with a technical selectivity block used by the stock assessment team). Just understand that there was heavy weighting on those two years, which also had the lowest fishing mortality values since the stock was rebuilt in 1995. There were serious concerns from our team that this rebuilding plan was a house of cards ready to tumble. But we were between a rock and a hard place. ASGA believes in and supports science. We had to wait for the 2022 numbers to come out to see if the hunch was right.

We are no longer between a rock and a hard place. Striped bass harvests exploded in 2022.

If you look at pounds of fish harvested in 2021 and 2021, there were 14,858,983 and 15,781,509 lbs. harvested respectively. In 2022, there were 35,271,130 lbs. harvested.

In numbers of fish, 2020 and 2021 saw 1,709,973 and 1,841,901 fish harvested. 2022 saw 3,521,066 fish harvested. Harvest doubled folks.

Catch and release mortality stayed about even.

Here’s the deal, there is no way on Earth we are rebuilding by 2029. There must be action taken at the ASMFC Spring Meeting this May to reverse this course. Not next year, it must happen in May. Why? The 2015-year class (a prolific spawning class that we are relying on for rebuilding) is stuck in the slot. These numbers will continue to be over the fishing mortality needed to rebuild. We haven’t had a good spawn in the Chesapeake since 2018. The bullpen is empty. We are out of options. There will be push back to initiate action. The most likely excuse will be to wait for the stock assessment update next year. We cannot accept this. Striped bass are being painted into a corner. There are no good year classes entering the system. Striped bass don’t have the luxury of waiting another year. We must act now to rebuild the stock.


Enough is enough. Enough with the commercial quota transfers. Enough with the stalling. Enough with the rebuilding plans that are built on numbers that could never hold up until 2029. These numbers are the best available science, and the writing is on the wall. Stay tuned to coming blogs to find out how to help.

14 Responses

  1. When they introduced the slot we all knew this was coming now it’s going to be very hard for the ASMFC to change the slot size and in my view we can only go to a harvest moratorium in order to get to the rebuild numbers by 2029

  2. It’s amazing that the YoY Index doesn’t seem to be an important factor in this equation. If the goes-intas don’t come close to meeting the goes-outas, we will eventually run out. No science here, just common sense. Clearly we need some new commissioners on the ASMFC. We have a new Governer here in Maryland. How do we make that happen?

    1. Unite and organize the sport fishermen. Now that the MSSA has been dissolved from poor leadership anew group must organize and defend the bay fishery.

  3. If the ASFMC is not in the tank, as you claimed in one of the previous editorials, then please tell me why an organization dedicated to the health of our marine life out to three miles, before another punchline takes over, is so blatantly incompetent. Every inshore species has crashed!
    No more playing games. Anyone in the private sector with this track record would have been sent packing long ago. Bring in people that truly care about our ocean, and not a bunch of bureaucrats whose methods and results point to only one conclusion.

  4. Some of the posts I see are less than empirically based

    The one that prompts my comment is a post on radioactive effluent to Cape Cod Bay by Ryan Collins et al.

    I am a 67 year old who guides flycasters and for 50 years in private sector as a scientist and manager of operations. WPI ‘79 and lifelong environmental activist who did his major qualifying project on resource planning , my competency on waste abatement

    You’ve gotta get control of the effluent you are spewing

  5. Tony, no need to apologize. You’re trying to interpret the results of an entire framework of indices, assessments, analyses, and interpretations – with all those acronyms – and present it to us the public. I’m a recently retired health science researcher who is now devoted to rallying a growing group of my striper fly fishing buddies to write personalized letters and attend public comment sessions. We’ve responded in the last two rounds, and I’m committed to expanding that.

    But, given the way public responses were treated by the Striped Bass Board in this last round (unused quota transfers), I’m wondering about other ways you see for us to have a presence, and an impact. Feel free to email me personally. I’m all ears.

    And thank you!

  6. I know this won’t fly, but this is a dire situation, and I would be in favor of a complete change in the rules. NO HARVESTING OF STRIPPED BASS. Only catch and release. This would include commercial and recreational fishing.

  7. In Maryland where we have DNR head very pro commercial sector we will never fail on the plus side for Striped Bass. Not rocket science.

    1. According to the MD DNR webpage :
      Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
      Advise Gov. on issues relating to Atlantic Fisheries in State water
      Membership: 3 consisting of DNR Fisheries Service Director, a State Legislator, and an individual appointed by the Governor.

      So how do we get “an individual appointed by the Governor?”

  8. I live up in New England, if this is an indication of things to come, there maybe no stripes for my kids or my grand kids some day SOON!
    I am a shore fisher, I haven’t caught a keeper well over several years. Only a few schooling and only a few.
    I would be willing to fish for other more plentiful fish for a few years if it helps, but the fishing boat nets that can not discriminate between slot or non slot fish or any species of fish that matter of fact.
    I understand they want to make a living, but they need to be regulate better than what is apparent now.
    A touchy subject indeed, I fearful the future.

  9. Striped bass numbers are really down and the problem is fisheries Managers are not fisherman and don’t have a clue what there doing as evidenced by the decline in bluefish. Why did it take them so long to lower the limit on Bluefish? They could have went from 15 to 7 years ago not wait till they are decimated then finally go to 3 fish. No one needs more than 3 fish since they don’t freeze well. Idiots were taking 15 just to impress their neighbors and show what great fisherman they are…… As said above we need new commissioners on the ASMFC asap..

  10. It’s amazing what the boats have as far as fish finding radar. They can pick a crab off the bottom floor. The fish don’t have a chance anymore. Here in RI there were a lot of bass but the bluefish were non existent. I think something should be done about bluefish also.

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