The Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board approved Addendum VI to Amendment 6 of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. The Addendum reduces all state commercial quotas by 18%, and implements a 1 fish bag limit and a 28”-35” recreational slot limit for ocean fisheries and a 1 fish bag limit and an 18” minimum size limit for Chesapeake Bay recreational fisheries. States may submit alternative regulations through conservation equivalency to achieve an 18% reduction in total removals relative to 2017 levels.
Addendum VI was initiated in response to the 2018 Benchmark Stock Assessment, which indicates the resource is overfished and experiencing overfishing. The Addendum’s measures are designed to reduce harvest, end overfishing, and bring fishing mortality to the target level in 2020.
Since catch and release practices contribute significantly to overall fishing mortality, the Addendum requires the mandatory use of circle hooks when fishing with bait to reduce release mortality in recreational striped bass fisheries. Outreach and education will be a necessary element to garner support and compliance with this important conservation measure.
States are required to submit implementation plans by November 30, 2019 for review by the Technical Committee and approval by the Board in February 2020. States must implement mandatory circle hook requirements by January 1, 2021. All other provisions of Addendum VI must be implemented by April 1, 2020. Additionally, in February 2020, the Board will consider a postponed motion to initiate an Amendment to rebuild spawning stock biomass to the target level and address other issues with the management program.
Addendum VI will be available on the Commission’s website (www.asmfc.org) on the Atlantic Striped Bass webpage in early November. For more information, please contact Max Appelman, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.842.0740.
Reactions to the decision have been mixed, with some applauding the decision, and others questioning the effectiveness of the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Board at representing the interests of individual fishermen, given that the majority of public comment supported the 1 fish at 35 inches or greater option.
Despite the board’s decision, we won’t know the regulations for each state until February, when the board will approve proposed options for “conservation equivalency;” in other words, regulations that differ from the 28- to 35-inch slot limit that still achieve the 18% reduction in recreational harvest.