Angling group calls for 10-year ban on harvesting striped bass

Joe Wojtas, The Day, New London, Conn.
·2 min read

Mar. 8—An angling conservation organization is calling for 10-year moratorium on harvesting striped bass in an effort to help rebuild the depleted stock of the popular fish.

The call by Stripers Forever comes as the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission seeks to amend its Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Striped Bass for an area stretching from Maine to North Carolina.

According to the ASMFC, its 2018 Benchmark Stock Assessemnt indicates that the Atlantic striped bass stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. In 2019, 87% of the estimated 5.4 million striped bass that were caught were landed by recreational anglers. Commercial catches are regulated on a coastwide quoata system. ASMFC is now seeking public comment through April 9 on regulating the striped bass fishery. Comments can be emailed to comments@asmfc.org.

After receiving public conment, ASMFC's timetable calls for it to develop a draft amendment which it will send out for public comment from November 2021 to January 2022. It is then scheduled to approve the amendment in February 2022.

In its public information document on the plan, ASMFC states that now if the opportunity for people to inform the commission about "changes observed in the fishery, actions you feel should or should not be taken in terms of management, regulation, enforcement, and research, and any other concerns you have about the resource or the fishery, as well as the reasons for your concerns."

It further states that the last time an amendment was adopted was in 2003.

"Since then the status and understanding of the striped bass stock and fishery has changed considerably which raises concern that the current management program no longer reflects current fishery needs and priorities," it stated.

In calling for the moratorum on both the recreational and commercial harvesting of the popular fish, Stripers Forever said the current management plan which was implemented 18 years ago "has utterly failed in its objective to rebuild striped bass stocks."

"Now the ASMFC is preparing to embark on yet another ten-year plan of compromise and half-measures and stripers may not survive," said Mike Spinney, a member of the group's board of directors. "Bold, decisive action is needed to prevent a collapse of the fishery like we saw in the late 1970s. An emergency moratorium was adopted in 1984 and is the only approach proven to work. We are calling on recreational anglers, conservationists, and anyone who depends on a healthy coastal ecosystem for their economic well-being to stand with us and demand that a moratorium be adopted now."

Stripers Forever has also made a list of other recommendations including no targeting of the fish in its traditional spawning areas, stronger punishments for poaching, limiting treble hooks to one per artificial lure and requiring barbs on artificial lures be flattened when used for striped bass.