A Turning Point for Bass

Initiate Addendum II

ASGA has engaged in every striped bass management issue in a meaningful and productive manner since our inception. We have worked tirelessly to ensure striped bass anglers are informed about this beloved fishery and that they understand the impact their voices can have on its management. In the past year, the ASMFC Striped Bass Board has taken important steps to ensure striped bass rebuild by 2029, but ASGA remains deeply concerned. At the upcoming ASMFC Annual Meeting, the Striped Bass Board needs to approve Draft Addendum II to ensure this fishery remains on track towards rebuilding. Even then, more actions may be needed considering how abysmal recruitment has been in the past five years. We believe that the striped bass fishery is at an inflection point: if action is not taken to correct our course, the stock will not rebuild by the required timeline.

Striped Bass with fly in Mouth
Fisherman Holding Striped Bass

Harvest Increased by 123%

from 2021 to 2022 according to MRIP estimates (coastwide, pounds of fish)

While it is clear that some areas experienced excellent striped bass fishing in the last year, it is important to remember the dynamics of a balanced population and a coastwide fishery. The good fishing was a result of one of the most prolific year classes on record reaching maturity. ASGA had deep concerns that the slot limit would fully exploit the robust 2015-year class when it was proposed. These concerns have now become a reality. The 2015-year class is the last robust recruitment year. While the 2017 and 2018 year classes are average, there are four consecutive years of the lowest recruitment in recent history following. The early outlook for the fifth consecutive year does not provide any more hope. This leaves the stock and those that depend on a healthy striped bass population in a very dangerous place.

Rebuilding Probability Below 15%

Due to the increase harvest in 2022

Amendment 7, which was just approved and implemented in May 2022, clearly states that the stock must be rebuilt within 10 yearsThis current rebuilding plan has failed. The 2022 harvest numbers depict a major increase in harvest and decrease the probability of rebuilding to 14.6%. This is unacceptable to our community and clearly violates Amendment 7’s rebuilding provisions. Taking a correction now is far better than imposing draconian measures in a few years – a concept supported by the angling community at large. 

ASGA organized a community campaign supported by thousands of anglers, brands and business owners to urge the Striped Bass Board to initiate Addendum II. Over 3000 individuals and companies had signed our official letter at the time of submission. Stakeholders throughout the east coast from all walks of life want to see action to rebuild this iconic fishery.

The ASMFC Striped Bass Board needs to initiate Addendum II to implement the necessary changes for the 2024 fishing season.

UPDATE AS OF SEPTEMBER 10, 2023:

The American Saltwater Guides Association submitted an official letter to the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board on Tuesday, April 25th, 2023. You can read the full letter here. Shortly after, the ASMFC Spring 2023 Meeting yielded a historic response. In this meeting, the Striped Bass Management Board initiated Addendum II to develop new recreational and commercial regulations for the ocean and the Chesapeake Bay fisheries to bring fishing mortality back to the target level (F=0.17). Additionally, The Board voted 15-1 (NJ stands alone) in favor of taking emergency action to overlay a maximum 31” size limit on all recreational fisheries. This creates a coastwide slot limit of 28-31” for striped bass. States must implement this regulation as soon as possible and no later than July 2nd of this year. These Emergency regs will be effective for 180 days (from May 2nd) and can be extended by one-year two separate times if need be. After a drawn-out challenge from New Jersey to consider non-compliance, all states have now agreed to proceed with EA regulations.

At Summer ASMFC Meeting, the Striped Bass Board was slated to approve Draft Addendum II for public comment. The document included options to reduce recreational fishing mortality to the target level, address the Chesapeake Bay’s fisheries and implement a maximum size limit for commercial striped bass fisheries. It was a complex document but ASGA believes Board Members had enough information to move the document forward — especially considering early warning signs that the 2023 striped bass spawn in the Chesapeake would be historically poor (this would result in five consecutive years of poor spawning success).

Unfortunately, the Board elected to delay approving Draft Addendum II for public comment to gather more information on some of the new options approved around the table. The Board will consider this revised Draft Addendum II at the Annual ASMFC Meeting on Wednesday, October 18th. ASGA will be providing more detailed analysis of the document and how you can help advocate for responsible, precautionary management for this incredible fishery. ASGA continues to express concern about the procedural timing for the Addendum and whether these necessary measures can be implemented for the 2024 fishing year. 

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