ASMFC met to discuss striped bass on April 29, 2019. The focus of the meeting was to address the overfished and overfishing status of stiped bass. The stock assessment
shows an alarming downward trend for the stock.

At the last meeting, the Striped Bass Management board asked the Technical Committee to analyze the data and come up with suggestions to end overfishing. along with ways to achieve the impending reductions.

The Technical Committee came back with the following information. To have a 50% probability of reducing mortality to acceptable levels, the coast would go from a 28″ minimum to a 35″ min. Maryland anglers in the Chesapeake would move from 19″ to 21″ and Virginia anglers would move from 20″ to 22″.

That brings us to the first new action of the day.

Let’s start with the good stuff. The biggest decision on the table was to move forward with an addendum rather than an amendment. The amendment process is much more time consuming. Thankfully, Douglas Grout from New Hampshire made a motion for an amendment. It was seconded by Dr. Justin Davis from Connecticut. The language of the motion is below

This motion passed easily, which seemed odd on the surface. It didn’t take too long to see why.

As we noted in our article Striped Bass Here’s What the”Keep on Harvesting” Side Will Try, there are several strategies that the other side will try. These were amendment vs addendum, changing the reference points, and death by a thousand cuts.

While the motion of the addendum passed, we were not far off. The commissioners from Maryland didn’t take long to put forth this motion.

So, why not take care of the first two strategies at once? Mr. Luisi decided to create a motion to work on an amendment after the completion of the addendum to consider changing the reference points. It is moments like this that make us want to stand up and scream, “Told ya so!”, but we aren’t like that. Actually, we are like that so, “TOLD YA SO”.

Please remember, if the reference points are changed, it will forever lower the amount of spawning stock, female stripers left alive in the system. This is no different than changing water quality standards because the current standards aren’t being met. Just lower the bar instead of doing the hard work.

Also, don’t forget about the alternate model that will take two more years to complete. It is the model that breaks out the Chesapeake stock of stripers from the coastal stock. The longer Maryland can stall, the greater the chance they can continue to harvest more. Plus, they are buying time to push that model through. None of this is good for anglers who enjoy an abundant supply of striped bass

This motion was tabled until the august meetings. However, we are suggesting an ongoing and constant effort to remind commissioners that we are not willing to lower the reference points. That abundant striper populations drive business and that we are not willing to further damage the future for the short term gains for only a few.

The August meeting of ASMFC will certainly be one for the ages. We will likely see the set of recommendations. Maryland will most likely try to change the reference points while attempting to delay harvest reductions. Some other states will likely try to use conservation equivalency to trim down the reductions. We need to exert consistent pressure on the commission in order to save striped bass for the next generation of anglers.

Our Striped Bass Action Alert will be updated to reflect these changes. Please look for Part 3 of our series on striped bass.

2 Responses

  1. John
    Thanks for all you do on behalf of many. Just two things that frustrate the hell out of me. First off, conservation equivalency is nothing more than a doorway to killing more fish under the guise of actually joining the rest of the coastal program. “Seasonal Closures ?”. Maryland will offer up closing the Chessy to SB fishing from Dec through Feb. Just like their last Conservation Equivalency killed way more fish than we were led to believe.Secondly, what is with the 50%. That’s a god dammed coin flip. Another 3 or 4 years to see if it worked ? We need something like 90% surety that it will work. The 50% chance never seems to upset anyone, so maybe I’m missing something…but I think not.

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