The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) recently approved an addendum to the regional Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fisheries Management Plan that requires all states in the striped bass management unit to reduce their 2015 recreational and commercial coastal striped bass harvest by 25 percent. DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife today announced steps toward implementing the regulation change in Delaware, with a public hearing and accompanying 30-day public comment period to be scheduled early next year to solicit input on recreational options.
“The change was based on the latest stock assessment, which determined that the current striped bass harvest would result in overfishing the stock in 2015,” said DNREC Fisheries Administrator John Clark. “The harvest reduction was therefore implemented to manage the fishery at a level that does not drop below the stock threshold.”
Delaware’s 2015 recreational harvest must be reduced through harvest control measures, which include consideration of reduced possession limits, increased minimum size limits and slot size limits. The current recreational regulation is a two-fish possession limit, a 28” minimum size, and no closed season for all state waters; a summer slot striped bass season with a two-fish possession limit and a 20” to 26” slot limit only applies to Delaware River and Bay and their tidal tributaries from July 1 through Aug. 31.
ASMFC has listed nine options in the addendum for reducing recreational striped bass harvest by at least 25 percent. Additional Delaware-specific options for reducing recreational striped bass harvest will be submitted by the Division of Fish & Wildlife to ASMFC. Upon ASMFC action in early 2015 on Delaware’s additional options, the Division of Fish & Wildlife will schedule a public hearing on the recreational options. The hearing record will be open for 30 days at that time and Delaware’s 2015 recreational regulation will be set after thorough consideration of public input.
Delaware’s commercial striped bass harvest must also be reduced by 25 percent in 2015. This reduction will be achieved by commercial striped bass quota holders being allocated 25 percent less poundage in 2015 than the current quota. The required commercial striped bass quota reduction will also be adopted through the same public hearing and regulation adoption process as for the recreational fishery.
For more information on the ASMFC’s Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fisheries Management Plan, including the nine recreational fishery options, please visit http://www.asmfc.org/files/Meetings/Annual2014/AtlanticStripedBassBoard.pdf.
To comment on the recreational options for striped bass harvest reduction prior to the regulatory public comment period, please contact the Fisheries Section at 302-739-9914 or email email@example.com.