My Limit is ONE

Recreational anglers fighting to preserve our marine resources.

Posted on January 06, 2014

An explanation of My Limit is One:

Recreational anglers in Maryland are deeply concerned with the current state of the striped bass population.  In fact, we have been concerned with the fishery for years.  In mid 2013, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission completed the striped bass benchmark stock assessment.  To no one’s surprise, the assessment  showed that the spawning stock biomass (sexually mature female striped bass) was in serious decline.  ASMFC reacted by voting 14 to 2 in favor of harvest cuts in Januray 2015. You can read a breakdown of striped bass issues here.

In November of 2013, Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced they planned to increase the quota for 2014 by 14%.  While MD DNR contends that science supports this increase, we believe this is a terrible mistake.

Like many of you, we felt nearly helpless in our effort to conserve striped bass.  But are we really?  Recreational anglers have an incredible opportunity to help out in a meaningful way.  We can also send a powerful message to fisheries managers up and down the coast.  We can use voluntary restraint in the fish we harvest and be more selective in our decisions.  What we are asking is this.

My Limit is One

  1. Limit your personal harvest to one fish per day

  2. Do not harvest fish under 24 inches

  3. Do not harvest fish over 36 inches

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind the three suggestions.

  1. More often than not, fisheries science lags woefully behind what anglers are experiencing.  In cases when a species begins to recover, the old creel limits may be restrictive in relation to the growing population.  In cases where species are on the decline,  the exact opposite is the truth.  This is why we are asking recreational anglers to voluntarily accept the challenge  to only keep one fish in 2014.
  2. Stripers become legal size in Maryland at 18 inches and approximately 3 years old.  The abundant 2011 year class of stripers will become legal for harvest in 2014.  This abundance is the primary force behind the decision to raise the quota by 14%.  The graph below shows the spawning success of striped bass since 1956  From this graph, you will note that we have only had one good spawn from 2008 to 2013.  The horizontal line is the average spawn.  It’s value is 11.7.  Note in 2012 the value was the worst on record.  In fact, many of the year classes will be woefully vacant in the SSB.  The 2011 fish must be protected.  If we voluntarily refuse to harvest this year class, we can make a difference.  This will send a very loud message to our managers that now is the time to conserve not increase harvest.  Please release all fish under 24″.  Do your part.  
  3. Isn’t it time we come to terms with the fact that we should stop harvesting the large breeders for a while?  If that breeding stock (the SSB) is in serious decline, how could it possibly be a good idea to kill them especially on their spawning run?  Fisheries managers will tell you that a dead fish is a dead fish.  It doesn’t matter to them if it is an 18 inch fish caught live lining in June or a 50 incher turning into the Choptank to lay her eggs.   Why take the biggest fish, most fertile females,  and frankly the best genes out of the stock? The time has come for recreational anglers to stand up for the fish.  Please release all stripers over 36 inches in 2014.  They are in trouble and need our help.

Recreational angers have repeatedly taken stands to preserve what they love.  It is time to do it again.  We ask you to voluntarily restrict your harvest of striped bass in 2014 with the hopes that ASMFC will mandate meaningful and appropriate cuts in 2015.  Until then, it is on our shoulders to help the striped bass one fisherman at a time.

 *Please understand this is a voluntary effort. If you are a charter captain or guide, we understand that you’re job is to provide your clients a full experience on the Bay while adhering to the existing fisheries regulations. This effort is for recreational fishermen.   Anyone else interested in joining is welcome but should not feel pressured to do so.