At their October meeting, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted to reduce the annual harvest of striped bass by 25% or more along the coast, and by just over 20% in the Chesapeake. The motion, which passed 14-2, calls for reducing harvest in the coastal recreational fishery by implementing a one fish bag limit while keeping a 28-inch size limit.
However, as per regulations set forth in the official striped bass management plan, states may use conservation equivalency to develop their own state-specific measures so long as any combination of size and bag still achieves a 25% reduction in harvest.
The approved addendum (IV) to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass responds to results of the 2013 Atlantic striped bass benchmark assessment which shows that reductions are required to keep the female spawning stock biomass from dipping below the target level. Even though the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, that spawning stock biomass is approaching what is considered "overfished threshold," with stock projections showing that will likely fall below that threshold if some type of action is not taken.
The approved addendum will be implemented on January 1, 2015, while the ASFMC Technical Committee will have to review any submitted conservation equivalency proposals by the states with the Board to review and consider approval at the Commission's Winter Meeting in Alexandria, VA from February 3-5. Addendum IV will be made available on the Commission's website, www.asmfc.org, under Breaking News, by mid-November.