Bass out for Vineyard derby

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The Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby will eliminate striped bass from the competition this year, derby leaders announced Monday.

The committee voted unanimously at a meeting Jan. 30 to eliminate stripers from the upcoming 75th annual tournament in September and October, a press release said.

“It’s no secret the bass are struggling,” said Joe El-Deiry, chairman of the derby committee, speaking to the Gazette by phone Monday. “Striped bass are probably the most important fish that swim in these waters. It was the responsible thing to do.”

The decision caps months of internal debate within the 36-member derby committee and comes amid wide-ranging concern about declining stocks. New slot regulations adopted this year by federal regulators will restrict the size of stripers that can be taken, effectively prohibiting the taking of large fish.

The derby, which is widely recognized up and down the East Coast as a premiere saltwater fishing competition, offers prizes for the largest fish caught in four species categories: striped bass, bluefish, false albacore and bonito.

But Mr. El-Deiry said the decision to remove stripers from the derby did not stem directly from the new regulations.

“It’s not about that,” he said. “It’s about being leaders in encouraging a healthy stock for the future. We have always prided ourselves in our conservation efforts.”

This marks the second time in history that the derby has eliminated striped bass from the competition. The last time was from 1985 to 1993, when striped bass stocks had hit a historic low. The decision was controversial at the outset, but what was seen at first as a symbolic gesture was followed by a statewide moratorium on the taking of stripers. In 1990 stocks rebounded.

Today the stripers are in trouble again, and a swell of scientific, regulatory and conservationist efforts are aimed at restoring the dwindling population — which last year was found to have dropped well below the threshold considered sustainable by federal regulators.

The new slot limits adopted last October by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will require the release of any striped bass measuring less than 28 inches or more than 35 inches.

Mr. El-Deiry said in the end the decision came down to the simplest terms. “If the stripers are in trouble, we should be removing them,” he said. “We shouldn’t be figuring out the best ways to keep them in our tournament. It’s about being leaders in encouraging a healthy stock for the future. We have always prided ourselves in our conservation efforts.”

In the press release Monday, the committee explained its decision. “Because of the obvious significance of striped bass — to the recreational fishing community and to the derby — we strongly believe that the responsible decision is to completely remove it as an eligible species in the 2020 derby, including any catch-and-release component,” it said in part. “The derby committee will continue to partner with fisheries scientists and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries in an effort to thoughtfully and responsibly consider the role of striped bass in the derby . . . we encourage anglers and derby participants to continue to think about striped bass, even if not fishing for them.” It concludes:

“While it is disappointing to not include striped bass in the 2020 derby, we recognize it as a necessary decision, just as the committee did in 1985. We hope it again will be part of a larger effort that is successful in realizing the recovery of striped bass.”

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24 mins ago, ged said:

What do you mean? The MA commercials guys say everything is fine for $5/pound

For a short period of time it was $8.25

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That’s so cool. I fully support this and can assume that it has an effect that could bleed outward—never fished it but have read about it and the Derby seems to be pretty impactful to a lot of people’s lives. 

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The Fisherman dropped bass from this year's past tournament.


Tunny and bonito ... thin fodder for a tournament, but it has to be so. Pity.

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I think it is a good sign. I wasnt fishing for Stripers when the last crash happened. From what I have read here over the years from those that saw it happen, it was bad. I haven't  kept a single one in 3 yrs. To be honest, I never found it to be the table fare its chalked up to be. 


I willingly admit that I love schoolie runs on the canal. Its even more fun with simply crushing the barbs. 


It seems that every cow i caught in my youth was always in the flow and was DOL ( not releasable).  


Its just a great step for the fishery. 


As unpopular as it is, shutting down the Commercial business is needed too. :dismay:



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