Anglers applaud initial ASMFC step to begin rebuilding gamefish population
On May 4th, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) took a pivotal step toward rebuilding the striped bass population by adopting Amendment 7 to the Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan. This comprehensive update includes significant changes to management tools that will be implemented in future fishing seasons.
Over the past decade, striper numbers have plunged to such worrisome levels that the interstate board initiated action based in large part on a 2018 stock assessment that found stripers are overfished and overfishing was occurring. On-the-water observations from anglers have also warned of this predicament for many years, leading to frustration in the conservation community over a lack of timely management action. Although there is no single event or action that caused the decline, below-average recruitment for more than a decade in the Chesapeake Bay and overfishing – particularly the harvesting of too many breeding sized fish – have been the main drivers. Additionally, lack of suitable habitat, degraded water quality, a high abundance of invasive blue catfish and snakeheads, and reduced availability of menhaden in Chesapeake Bay have all likely contributed to the stripers’ decline.
“Amendment 7 includes a number of important changes to management that will aid in rebuilding the striper fishery, but it will take more work by managers, engagement with all stakeholders, and a focus on what is best for the resource.” said David Sikorski, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association Maryland and a member of the ASMFC Striped Bass Board. “This is one reason why CCA and our partners are hosting an informative series of seminars in 2022 entitled, “Past, Present, & Future of Striped Bass: A Chesapeake Perspective.”
The first of the series – entitled “Dark Years: Lessons Learned from the Striper Moratorium of 1985-1990” – is Thursday, May 12, and will be live streamed from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. All three events, including the second installment on July 14 and the final episode on Sept. 22, will be hosted by FishTalk magazine. Register for free at fishtalkmag.com/chesapeake-perspective.
“Chesapeake anglers demand and deserve a 21st century striper fishery that is well-managed, healthy, and abundant,” said Richen Brame, CCA’s South Atlantic Fisheries Director. “moving forward all management tools should be on the table, including taking a hard look at the timing of Virginia’s gill net fishery that targets large breeding rockfish during the peak of their spring spawning migration.”