CCA Opposes Proposed Rollover of Commercial Harvest

Anglers highlight important warning signs for the conservation of Atlantic striped bass

Posted on October 29, 2009

Recreational anglers are opposing a plan currently before the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) that would increase commercial striped bass harvest. The proposal would allow commercial fishermen to add at least half, and possibly as much as all, of their uncaught commercial striped bass quota to the commercial quota for the following year. This unusual move could negatively impact the conservation of this important species at a time when the continuing recovery of the stock is in question.

“Many factors suggest that the striped bass stock may be in decline, so this is clearly not the time to be figuring out how to allow the commercial sector to kill more fish,” said Richen Brame, Atlantic States Fisheries Director for Coastal Conservation Association (CCA). “This time would be better spent trying to figure out what is going on with the stock and identify the causes for the decline. We should be pursuing a precautionary strategy, not loosening the harvest regulations for the commercial sector.”
 
In its formal comments before the ASMFC against the proposal, CCA cited several disturbing trends in the striped bass fishery, including a dramatic decrease in the number of striped bass caught by recreational fishermen, particularly in the northeastern states of New Hampshire and Maine, the prevalence of the fatal disease Mycobacteriosis among the Chesapeake Bay spawning stock, and a Fish and Wildlife Service annual survey that encountered the fewest striped bass in the survey’s history.
 
“We should not be trying to increase harvest of this valuable resource; we should be expressing concern about its long-term health and viability,” said Charles A. Witek, chairman of CCA’s Atlantic States Fisheries Committee. “Striped bass have been the crown jewel of ASMFC’s fisheries management program. It appears now that some of that luster is fading and precautionary management is needed to prevent any further deterioration of the stock. At a time when we should be critically reviewing the next steps to conserve this species, the ASMFC is trying to maximize commercial take.” 
 
Click HERE to see CCA's comments to the ASMFC on this issue.
 
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CCA is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the nation. With almost 100,000 members in 17 state chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977. Visit www.JoinCCA.org for more information.