Virginia officials have proposed canceling the 2019 fishing season for large striped bass in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay out of concern for the declining striper stock.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is expected to vote April 23 on an “emergency proposal” that would recommend canceling the trophy-size striped bass season, when anglers can keep stripers that measure 36 inches or longer. If enacted, the measure would go into place the following Monday, April 29, applying specifically to trophy-sized rockfish in the spring season.
According to an April 1 VMRC notice, the status of the striper stock as overfished is the reason for consideration of the spring ban.
“The number of striped bass harvested recreationally by Virginia fisheries has declined markedly since 2010 when 368,000 striped bass were harvested from all tidal Virginia waters,” the document stated. “In 2018, preliminary recreational striped bass harvest is less than 52,000 fish.”
The emergency amendments proposed include:
1) elimination of the open season for the Bay spring trophy-size striped bass recreational fishery of May 1 through June 15
2) elimination of the open season for the Coastal spring trophy-size striped bass recreational fishery of May 1 through May 15
3) elimination of the open season for the Potomac River tributaries spring striped bass recreational fishery of April 20 through May 15
If these measures are adopted, they would stand until at least May 28, when a public hearing on this issue would then take place. Even if these emergency measures are adopted, VMRC reports that anglers will still have opportunities to catch rockfish after May 16, as fish between 20” and 28” could still be harvested.