ASMFC Extends Size Limit on Recreational Bass Catch but Defers Decision on Addendum to Long-Term Recovery Plan

Continuing its efforts to aid the comeback of striped bass, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted yesterday to extend the emergency regulation it adopted in May to reduce striped bass mortality. The ASMFC also continued work on a draft Addendum II to the striped bass management plan outlining additional options for the long-term recovery of striped bass populations.  

At its May meeting, ASMFC’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board took emergency actions to protect striped bass spawned in 2015 by instituting a maximum recreational harvest size of 31 inches. Atlantic Coast states had until early July to implement the emergency action.  

At the same time, the Board initiated work on a draft Addendum II to develop options to bring striped bass fishing mortality back down to levels needed to rebuild the population following 2022 estimates that indicated a nearly 40 percent increase in striped bass removals.  

The Chesapeake Bay serves as a critical nursery area for striped bass, contributing significantly to the coastwide stock and the regional economy. But the current stock is in poor condition due to excessive mortality from fishing, low reproduction, water quality challenges, and climate change.

Yesterday the ASMFC voted to extend the previously adopted emergency measure that set a 31-inch maximum size limit in the recreational fishery for an additional year, effective October 28. Further action on Addendum II was delayed pending additional input from ASMFC’s technical committee. The committee is tasked with evaluating the updated management options that were modified at yesterday’s meeting. Managers will meet in the Fall to review input and finalize the Addendum for release for public comment.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore issued the following statement:

“As fishing continues to put pressure on striped bass populations, extending the emergency size limits another year is the right call while the Board considers additional measures.

“Striped bass are in trouble. This addendum is ASMFC’s best chance to turn the tide. Unfortunately, by removing certain Chesapeake Bay-specific management options, the Board missed an important opportunity to consider longer seasonal closures, which protect striped bass during critical life stages and during periods of low oxygen and high-water temperatures that increase striped bass mortality. It now falls to the states to take further actions to address striped bass mortality during these challenging times of the year.  

“As development of Addendum II continues, CBF urges the Board to retain management options that consider commercial quota reductions needed to maintain the stock’s reproductive potential. These management options must be retained if we are to achieve the necessary reductions in fishing mortality that can ensure striped bass populations get back on track by 2029. Without strong conservation measures across all fishery sectors, the hope of bringing back this iconic species will be lost.  

“We encourage anyone who cares about the future of striped bass to follow this management action and weigh in.”

Lisa Caruso 90x110

Lisa Caruso

Washington, D.C. Communications & Media Relations Manager, CBF

[email protected]

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