Massachusetts 2014 Commercial Striped Bass Regulations Announced

Commercial striped bass season off Monomoy, July 2011.

Commercial striped bass season off Chatham, Massachusetts, July 2011.

Massachusetts’ 2014 commercial striped bass season regulations were announced yesterday, revealing sweeping changes from the 2013 commercial striper season. In 2014, commercial striped bass fishermen will only be able to fish on Mondays and Thursdays with a 15-fish limit for boat operators and a 2-fish limit for individual rod & reel license holders. These regulations are also accompanied by a brand new striped bass tagging program for primary buyers, ensuring that all commercially caught stripers are accounted for until after their sale at retail seafood businesses and restaurants.

The tagging program meets a requirement set by Addendum III to the Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Management Plan, which was initiated in response to an investigation of striped bass poaching operations within Chesapeake Bay. The extended season was proposed to help reduce market gluts and improve ex-vessel prices paid for striped bass, make wild-caught stripers available for a longer period of time during summer, and lessen the impacts of intensive fishing on aggregated striped bass off Chatham. Restricting individual rod-and-reel license holders to two fish is part of the state’s effort to limit participation in the fishery to “real” commercial fishermen, which was suggested in comments at public hearings.

Individuals who received a Striped Bass Endorsement after September 8, 2013 could also be restricted from participating in the 2014 MA striper season or may be subject to different eligibility criteria than those who held an endorsement prior to this date. The application & renewal date for the 2014 commercial striped bass season is March 15, 2014.

For more information, take a look at the chart below of 2013 vs. 2014 commercial striper season regulations, and view the entire Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries Press Release here.

2013 2014
Opening date July 14 Opening Date June 23
34″ size limit 34″ size limit
Quota: 997,869 pounds Quota: 1.15 million pounds
Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Mondays and Thursdays only
Sundays – 5 fish per day
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – 30 fish per day
15-fish daily limit to fishermen with commercial lobster or boat permit with striped bass endorsement
2-fish daily limit applied to fishermen issued a commercial individual or rod & reel permit with striped bass endorsement.
No control date. Any person issued a Striped Bass Endorsement after September 8, 2013 may be restricted from participating in this fishery or may be subject to different eligibility criteria than those persons who held a Striped Bass Endorsement prior to this date.
No tagging program. Striped Bass Tagging Program introduced for primary buyers. All primary buyers of striped bass must affix a valid, Massachusetts-issued ID Tag to each striped bass at the place of primary purchase and prior to transit. The tags must also accompany the fillets while in possession for re-sale and remain on premises of retail seafood dealers and other seafood businesses until all fillets are sold.
  1. Greg

    Really another increase in total pounds. The powers that be just do not get it. We are heading for another collapse.

    • BIG-RY

      Why can’t we do an every other year commercial season, let’s say we have the season this year and don’t next year…give the million pounds of fish that weren’t harvested a chance to breed, then have the season the following year after there are a shit load of schoolies out there that wouldn’t been if we hadn’t skipped a year, if they could do a program like that we would have unbelievable striper fishing like you’d dream of in 5 years.

  2. Rob

    We don’t want the bag limit to go up… Seriously, we are NOT going to have a fishery if this stays like this…

  3. John Domings

    I would rather have seen them do away with a commercial season altogether and make them a game fish. As a charter captain I have seen the reduction in striper numbers over the last four or five years. Very few juvenile stripers have been caught in the last two years and that’s a bad sign! At $15 a pound how many people can afford to buy striper anyway? My commercial friends don’t like the idea but if the trend continues, stripers will go the same way as they were in the 70’s and 80’s.

  4. Taylor

    Everything here seems good, especially the attempt to stop poaching, but then you get to the quota being raised again – by over 15%.

  5. Bruce

    these regulations allow a continual influx of new, less experienced entrants into the fishery and limit the amount of daily fish the experienced and fishery dependent fisher can catch. with a limited quota and an unlimited amount of harvesters, there will always be too short of a season and too low of a price to maximize the commercial benefit of this prime fish. in essence, it results in a less knowledgeable harvester and “dumbs down” the fishery. it is appalling to me that this is still an open access fishery. there should have been a limited number of permits way back in 2002. This is the example of a mismanaged fishery in my opinion.

  6. paul dufresne

    how can they say a permit holder bought after 7/8/2013 will have restricted access.I got mine again when I found out they wouldn’t be available after 3/15/2014

  7. al

    i’m really confused about this lobster boat or commercial boat as compared to a guy who buys a commercial license but without a boat – so i bought this license and can only catch 2 a day because i don’t have a boat?
    thats not right.

    • John Rice

      You shouldn’t have one at all unless you make a living fishing and you obviously don’t.

  8. wes

    I understand changing the dates of the fishing to two days and loosing Sundays, but an increase in the quota doesn’t make sense. Also I haven’t seen the decline of stripers at all. I fished them three to four times a week for the last three summers and have been striper fishing since I was 5. being 18 now I have always caught my limit for the table and been able to release more. I also catch many juvenile stripers in the spring and fall on the cape.

  9. John Farrell

    They should get ride of the charter boats because they can go out and get two fish per person they have on the boat.

  10. george

    With the state of fishery in decline, I think it’s an absolute disgrace that they ate still being harvested commercially. As long as money is involved, greedy people will continue to exploit it to the point of a complete collapse. I, for one, can’t wait to see it happen, because the sooner it does, the quicker we can get our heads out of our assets and fix it.

  11. BIG-RY

    Why can’t we do an every other year commercial season, let’s say we have the season this year and don’t next year…give the million pounds of fish that weren’t harvested a chance to breed, then have the season the following year after there are a shit load of schoolies out there that wouldn’t been if we hadn’t skipped a year, if they could do a program like that we would have unbelievable striper fishing like you’d dream of in 5 years.

    • Joe

      The issue is less about harvest than it is about production. We have had terrible young-of-the-year production coming out of the Chesapeake Bay for some time now, including years when spawning stock biomass was in great condition and well above the prescribed threshold. Therefore, the notion that we could rebuild this fishery by eliminating ~4mlbs of harvest on a bi-annual basis is moot.

      This does not mean that fishing mortality shouldn’t be cut; both sectors coast-wide should see cuts and it’s a shame that it won’t happen before 2015 the earliest. But if we could stop the in-fighting between the recreational and commercial sectors and focused on improving the environmental and ecological conditions in the Chesapeake Bay we may actually make some headway in securing a sustainable striped bass population.

  12. Joe

    MA’s baseline commercial quota has been 1.15M lbs since the ASMFC adopted Amendment 6 in 2003. Annual changes to the quota are a product of overages that must be paid back the next year. In 2012 there was a 15% commercial quota overage, resulting in a deduction of about ~4,000 lbs from the 2013 quota. Whereas the overage was less than 1% in 2013, so there is a negligible reduction to the 2014 quota.

  13. Jeff

    Ridiculous, given a declining fishery, that the state would allow an increase in the commercial quota. But just as ridiculous is that recreational fishermen are still allowed to keep 2 fish. No knowledgeable striper fisherman should be opposed to reducing commercial or recreational limits.

  14. alster

    I am for preserving the strip bass population so maybe everyone should put there heads tougher both commercial and noncommercial and everyone involved n come up with a solution to the problem that will benefit everyone instead of fighting with each other dos not solved the problem dos it

  15. grinder

    All you guys complaining are so ignorant it amazes me. First, the quota is set consistently every year, the reason the quota was not over a million pounds last year was because of the overages from the previous season-it gets taken off the next year’s quota. Second, you realize the commercial bass landings in MA is less than 20% of the ENTIRE harvest including recreational and charter landings. You all complain about taking breeders, well how about letting them get to breeding size before they can be taken? Those 28″ fish that the charter/rec keep are the same fish that grow into “breeders”, so it is more damaging to take them before they have had a chance to reproduce. Common sense. So why isn’t anyone complaining about the management of the recreational or charter fishery? That goes on EVERY DAY from May till November, and is responsible for over 80% of striped bass killed every year in MA waters. Commercial season is maybe 10 or 12 days a year. Not 200 days. Hook and line fishery-the “cleanest” fishery also-not like gillnetting them in NY or seining them in the Chesapeake. Or dragging them in the “midwater” herring boats where ive personally seen almost a million pounds dead floating for a few square miles. Get your heads out of your ass and look at what actually impacts the bass population, not just what you hear from your hack buddies.

    • Rod Man

      I think this is about making Mass. commercial season for Mass. residents only.
      How would you like if out-of-stater making lots of noise at 3;00 AM and even blocking your driveway with their trailer not to mention the are part time fishermen taking advantage of the system to profit and taking away from full time fishermen that really depend on this income and they have been doing this all their lives not just because they can make lots of cash(winter are lean) but it support their family (I have not met one that lives in a mansion yet). Most of them yes “them” come from a state that made striped bass a recreation fish. I have seen this first hand and this hurts our fishing communities in our own state. Hope its gets better for Mass fishermen…..I live inland not on the coast

      • Chris Hart

        You Nailed it— this will separate the out of staters who came ,overnighted and split with the Cash to NH Maine R.I Vt. and NY…—-Global Warming has pushed the Fish further from the Beaches as Stripers need cold Water…Billingsgate was all but empty this past summer,too Warm…

      • Jon

        They can’t make it in-state only because these are migratory fish, the MA quota is really set by ASMFC and based on the assumption that there are permit holders across many states. I’m pretty sure that’s why it’s never even been suggested that it become a residents-only fishery anyway (well that and the huge fees Mass collects from out of state folks – at $320/each for a boat permit and with most of those permits catching practically no fish, it’s a “great deal” for Mass).. I’m not sure if it’s even possible but if so, I’m pretty sure the implications of kicking out non residents would be reduction in quota, re-distributed to other states.

        But bottom line when you look at the distribution of who is really catching fish, it’s like 10% of the boats getting 90% of the fish. The other 90% of the boats may annoy you but they are not contributing to the problem (aside from over-crowding)..

        These regulations should help the folks down in Chatham, as 15 fish is less worth it for someone to come in from out of town and camp out there.. at 30 fish there was much more potential for profit and over-head like hotel rooms and all the fuel involved with getting a boat down there.

    • MReardon

      You guys have no idea the damage those midwater boats have done to this and the haddock fishery.
      Why there are no .gov observers on those things is beyond stupid.

  16. Fishslaya69

    This is horse shit. These greedy sons of bitches focusing on money need to be hanged. Who in their right mind thinks we should be taking over a million pounds of a fish species whose population is declining exponentially. Get your heads out of your asses people.

  17. Rick Sprague

    Maybe the solution lies outside of the box and we can learn something from the hunters and their policies on antler restriction to increase the breeding population.It has been long known that restricting the harvest of yearlings or the smaller stock and only harvesting the larger older of a stock will lead to increased breeding by the young ones who are healthier.Maybe limit it to catch and release for a couple years to get more accurate numbers and go from there.I know not a lot of people would agree to not harvesting any but to get a real hold on numbers it would be beneficial.We have two groups that dont want to let go of what they have and that’s understandable but it would be in the best interest to find common ground and share knowledge and take part in study rather than harvest for a bit.

  18. rockcrab

    The stripers are long and lean because they have no more food the biologist know it. Keep letting the purse seiners catch all the menhaden. Have you seen many peanut bunker around the last few years? I used love live lining herring but we wipe them out buy dumping nitrogen into the ponds to keep are grass green on our nice big lawns. I am glad they closed the runs here on the cape. I do believe we could have a sustainable fishery, but we have to look at the big picture. If you take a pond that used have 10 acres of good sand bottom which the herring could breed on and algae now covers 8 of it you won’t well thats 80% less herring. Sorry to babble on but I think these new regulations may help but if the fish don’t have food it’s kind of grazing cattle in a desert

    • Dan

      I have to tell you ,when you eliminate the food source for any fish they are either going to decline or go out to deeper waters to find a food source.The Striped bass are a prime example of this scenario.The saving grace for the striped bass fishery is that they can only be taken “legally” by rod and reel.
      The fishing boats that drag their nets on the ocean floor create a desert like scenario which leaves no food source for juvenile fish. The technology that exists today has far surpassed the ability of any fish species to flourish and survive.I hate to say it but this has trickled down to the Striped bass fishery

      The Menhaden used to be in abundance and provided the best and favorite food source for Striped bass.The bass population has been strained not by over fishing but a lack of a viable food source.
      I have been fishing since the late 60’s and never had to leave my home town river to see schools of menhaden and in turn catch my fair share of 30-40 pound stripers.
      Those day’s are gone for now and hopefully when we all open our eyes and start to regulate the menhaden fishery and other fisheries we could all enjoy the large abundance of all different species of fish that used to inhabit our inland shores.
      I know for a fact that most of the big striper class are feeding past the three mile limit.
      I wonder how many of those fish are being taken or thrown back as” by catch ” by our remaining commercial fleet.
      Rod and reel fishing is the answer to repairing our desimated fishing industry.

  19. flying avocado

    Many good points I love fishing residential/commercial years ago it’s my understanding our stipers have a cycle like cod for producing the most eggs so wy not a slot limit .let’s kick down the doors of the idiots making the rules .

  20. Dave Laporte jr

    The fishing has been awesome love the new rules an regulations love this new season

  21. Desmond Curran

    I recreationally and commercially finished Cape Cod for over 20 years. Go out fishing the jetties of the Cape in the 70s and 80s. The amount of stripers now blows away the population in the 70s and 80s. If you caught a couple stripers in the spring off the jetties in the late 70s early 80sthat was unbelievable. This is the Chatham Harwich area of the Cape. The commercial fishing for striped bass is 2% of the problem. Ecosystem in the Chesapeake where the stripers are spawning, the lack of bait, draggers in the ocean, and Recreational fisherman all contribute to the decline of the stripers. Also the population does go up and down every 20 or 30 years. If you think anyone’s getting rich striper fishing think again. You can close down the commercial season for the next 20 years, it’s not going to change the striper population. People really worried about it,close the whole fishery,clean up the Chesapeake, no off shore dragging end of story.


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