On May 2, 2023, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Striped Bass Management Board (Board) voted to take emergency action to implement a 1 fish at 28″ to less than 31″ size slot limit for all ocean recreational striped bass fisheries coastwide.
This action responds to the unprecedented magnitude of 2022 recreational harvest, which is nearly double that of 2021, and new projections indicating that the stock has a very low chance of rebuilding if the higher 2022 fishing morality rate continues. The 31″ size restriction is designed to reduce harvest on the 2015 year-class, one of the last strong year-classes in the population, and a major factor in the recreational fishery’s increased harvest in 2022.
States must implement compliant measures as soon as possible and no later than July 2, 2023— or risk being found out-of-compliance and having a full harvest moratorium enacted. The emergency action will be in place for 180 days but could be extended by the Board. See the ASMFC press release for more information. The ASMFC will be holding informational webinars later in May on this action; details will be released as soon as possible.
Please note, until the new regulation is formally adopted in Massachusetts, the current striped bass regulations remain: 1 fish at 28″ to less than 35″. However, in order to maximize the conservation benefit, anglers are encouraged to release all fish 31″ or greater immediately. DMF is working with other New England states to align our implementation date to the extent possible and have rules in place later this May. The public will be notified once the new regulation is formally adopted.
The Board also voted to initiate an Addendum to examine additional measures for 2024 if needed to meet the 2029 deadline to rebuild striped bass. This Addendum will be a fully public process and consider changes to both the recreational and commercial regulations. DMF will be providing further information on the Emergency Action, regulatory timeline, and Addendum in the coming days.