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I might have missed the thread but thought to pass this along anyway.

 

Striped bass population in trouble, new study finds

Regional fisheries management board to consider setting catch reductions

By Karl Blankenship on February 07, 2019

10

Striped bass, one of the most prized species in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast, are being overfished according to a new assessment of the stock’s health — a finding that will likely trigger catch reductions for a species long touted as a fisheries management success.

A new stock assessment has found that the population of striped bass along the Atlantic Coast is being overfished and may trigger the need for catch reductions. (Chesapeake Bay Program)

The bleak preliminary findings of the assessment were presented to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a panel of fisheries managers, on Wednesday. The full analysis was not available. Its completion was delayed by the partial government shutdown, which sidelined biologists in the National Marine Fisheries Service who were working to complete the report.

But, noted Mike Armstrong of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, who also chairs the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Management Board, the final results “will likely be the same when [the report] comes out.”

The board asked its technical advisers to estimate the level of catch reductions needed to bring the stock above management targets at its May meeting, when the stock assessment is expected to be ready for approval.

“We know it is going to be pretty drastic,” said John Clark of the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, a member of the board.

The findings of the assessment were a bit of a surprise. Though the overall population was known to be declining, striped bass are often considered a signature success for fishery management.

The overharvest of striped bass, also called rockfish, sent their population to critically low levels in the early 1980s, eventually leading to a catch moratorium. The population rebounded, allowing catches to resume, and by 1997 the population recovered to an estimated 419 million fish aged one year or more.

After staying at relatively high numbers for nearly 10 years, the population began to decline, in part because of less reproductive success during the past decade and a half — a rate which is greatly influenced by weather patterns.

The decline led to fishing restrictions in recent years, but the new assessment shows that those restrictions failed to reduce the overall trajectory for the stock.

Using new information, the assessment has produced a more dire picture of the striped bass population.

The threshold for taking management action to conserve the population is triggered when the “spawning stock biomass” — an estimate of the number and size of reproductive age females in the stock — falls below 91,436 metric tons along the coast. The preliminary assessment found the spawning stock biomass fell to 68,476 metric tons in 2017.

The assessment also indicates that the spawning stock was not only being overfished, but had fallen below the threshold for several years. The scientists producing the report were confident in their conclusion.

 “The probability is very high that that is the case,” said Mike Celestino, a member of the ASMFC’s Assessment Science Committee who briefed the commission on the findings.

In a preview of the difficulty in finding management solutions, the assessment also suggests that, to some extent, some of the previous actions to control harvest had alarming side effects.

Restrictions that increased the minimum catch sizes in recent years appear to have increased the number of undersize fish that were caught, handled, released and died. Scientists estimate that 10 percent of caught-and-released fish ultimately die.

Data in the summary provided to the board showed that the number of fish that died after being handled by recreational anglers in 2017 exceeded the number they actually kept.

Andrew Shiels of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission called that “one of the most disturbing of all the issues that’s been presented today.”

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Well, if this is what it takes to snap us back to the moratorium regs then it's about time.  

 

And if anyone is serious about saving the breeding population then the MA hook and line comm season has got to go, OR at least be cut back to legit legacy operations. 

 

And that sneaking around the one fish limit in NJ and NY ends too, never should have been allowed.  

 

Ironically, I fear a massive cut down in bass comm activity in DE, VA, and MD will turn a greater effort toward the already unsustainable slaughter of menhaden, and thus in a way double down on the bass problem.

Edited by mumichog

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I was reading a 1980s study that found springtime water control by dams or nature some years had a big effect on the survival of eggs/larva of striped bass.   

 

I am in VA this weekend and asked a few folks about the bass here.  Didn't sound good.  

 

MY opinion.  If commercial fisherman are harvesting fish around spawning time, they should collect eggs and have state hatcheries.   We do it for trout.  We do it for pheasants.  We do it for other species.  Heck, NY did it for rattlesnakes.  Why not striped bass............

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What a surprise. I wonder what the guys that are always saying that the fishery is ok. And how their commercial buddys saying acres of bass out in the ocean have to say to this.  Some guys will always catch. But the reality has been obvious to a good handful of guys this is becoming a bad situation. I hope something will get done.  But I’m jaded and don’t believe anyone can do anything. I’ve met some great guys in my life that are trying to do good things about our fishery. But in the end nothing comes out of it. It’s frustrating and sad.  

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  We all know it’s what needs to be done. Also,I know a lot of bass,even when released are not making it. The things I see while out fishing is really sad..I see treble hooks employed instead of singles,,robust barbs,which should be ground off if you are a C&R guy..I can’t tell you how many times I have watched guys wrestle trebles from a bass or Bluefish mouth,and then say,,”he will be fine,he swam away fine”..I beg to differ. I have seen Bass dropped from bridges that are pretty damn high..I have seen people drag a Bass over a railing on a pier or dock etc,,and let the fish thrash all over the cement for minutes,before they decide to get it back in the water.Slime coatings are constantly being compromised. It’s really amazing that people either don’t care about damaging fish,or have no education about these issues. 

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20 hours ago, cashews121 said:

... or have no education about these issues. 

I think this is a lot of it. Needs to be better resources for learning how to catch and release so that fish have the best chance of surviving. 

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Protect the breeding population and lower mortality.  Moratorium, slot, whatever it takes to keep the fishery viable. NO COMMERCIAL     FISHING. No big fish for charter boats. Scientifically backed regulations so this doesn’t happen again. These fish are too important economically and ecologically to loose.

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I am generally not for more rules, regulations, etc, however if you feel the resource is being abused, ask oneself this:  Is a rabbit more important than a striper?

 

As a kid I had to take AND PASS a hunter ed course in order to pursue small and big game.

 

Does anyone recall the fishing education course thats required?

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, tristate said:

Protect the breeding population and lower mortality.  Moratorium, slot, whatever it takes to keep the fishery viable. NO COMMERCIAL     FISHING. No big fish for charter boats. Scientifically backed regulations so this doesn’t happen again. These fish are too important economically and ecologically to loose.

How do u feel about no rec fishing?

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Coastwide limit at 36" , you know how many guys would stop right there . A big percentage. If they know they can't bring one home they won't go . That would be a great start . Doubt that will ever happen though the charters and head boats will cry too much .

What would really make me happy is a moratorium, that would be a godsend.

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45 mins ago, 55555s said:

I am generally not for more rules, regulations, etc, however if you feel the resource is being abused, ask oneself this:  Is a rabbit more important than a striper?

 

As a kid I had to take AND PASS a hunter ed course in order to pursue small and big game.

 

Does anyone recall the fishing education course thats required?

On vacation I was chatting with a couple of Germans, there you have to pass a conservation and fish identification test to get a fishing license! 

 

Don't you think a slot would be best?  Seems to work well for redfish.  At least you wouldn't see head boats with piles of 30# breeders. I also don't understand the lower limits for the Hudson and Chesapeake, Hudson is 18 - 28 or >40.

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