ASMFC Releases Addendum II to The Striped Bass Management Plan as Low Numbers Cause Concern

Plan Greatest Opportunity to Rebuild Striped Bass Population

As low striped bass numbers in the Chesapeake Bay cause widespread concern, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) yesterday released for public comment a fisheries management plan update that seeks to help rebuild the striped bass population.

Last week’s release of results of annual surveys of juvenile striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay showed numbers far below average in Maryland for the fifth year in a row, as well as below average numbers this year in Virginia. Low numbers of young fish now mean in the future there will be fewer of the large fish prized by anglers and important for reproduction of the species. The Chesapeake Bay serves as a critical nursery area for striped bass, contributing significantly to the coastwide striped bass population and the region’s economy.

The striped bass population is suffering from a variety of factors, including fishing pressure due to the species popularity, low reproduction, water quality challenges, and climate change. Recreational fishing pressure on striped bass along the Atlantic Coast in 2022 was nearly double that of previous years. While the population has not reached the low point of the 1980s that led to a fishery moratorium, strong action is needed now to ensure a more abundant population in the future.

With yesterday’s action, ASMFC initiated an update to its striped bass fisheries management plan, known as Addendum II, which intends to reduce mortality in striped bass fisheries by considering changes to both recreational and commercial fisheries. At its previous meeting, ASMFC extended an emergency action to decrease the maximum size limit to 31 inches.

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

“Striped bass are continuing to face significant challenges, and we can’t ensure their comeback without a strong plan from the ASMFC and the cooperation of states up and down the Atlantic Coast. Without conservation measures across all fishery sectors, the hope of bringing back this iconic species will be lost.

“Unfortunately, the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Management 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.

“Draft Addendum II includes a number of options that will help reduce fishing pressure, allowing more fish to reach spawning age so that they can reproduce and get that population moving back in the right direction. The ASMFC’s fishery plan update is a critical opportunity to give feedback. Anyone who cares about striped bass should weigh in.”

Kenny Fletcher 90x110

Kenny Fletcher

Director of Communications and Media Relations, CBF

[email protected]

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