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Martha's Vineyard Surfcasters
Martha's Vineyard
Surfcasters Association
P.O. Box 3053
Edgartown, MA 02539

ASMFC Addendum V to Amendment 6 to Increase the Allowable Striped Bass Catch Limit Voted Down 10-5 (Stripers Forever, 5/10/17)

May 11

Written by:
5/11/2017 8:32 AM  RssIcon

Stripers Forever
May 10, 2017
Brad Burns, President


Yesterday the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission debated on whether or not an increase in striped bass harvest of about 10% should be allowed for next year. The motion to take the increase out to public hearings failed 10 votes to 5. Hooray! NJ, DE, MD, VA, and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission – a shill organization that simply provides the Chesapeake Bay states an extra vote – all voted in favor, and all other states voted against. What changed from the first vote was that CT, NY, NC all changed their votes from yes to no, and that did it for us.
 
Why the change of heart from last winter when this idea was dreamed up? I think in the final analysis there were three reasons. The first was that the actual catch is hard to predict. The catch was thought to have decreased considerably on the coast but had actually increased in the Chesapeake Bay area, and these were the same people who wanted still more. It didn’t sell well. The scientists predicted that there was a very good chance that the catch in 2018 would actually increase by more than 10% even with no change in regulations. This was because of an increased number of fish in certain year classes that both the Bay and the coast are expected to fish on, and lastly because a stock assessment with a lot of new science is being proposed for 2018. Many thought it was likely that even if a change was made this year it would probably be changed again – perhaps reversed – next year.
 
In any case we dodged a bullet, and I hope our advocacy was helpful. This reprieve will give us a chance to see another year class born in the Chesapeake Bay before the issue is tackled again. Some of the recent YOY have been poor, but the trend isn’t really conclusive because there are also occasionally really good ones. The science is also evolving. During yesterday's meeting there was a discussion about the new science methods, and they are talking about some of the complicated aspects of the old models that we have long had issues with. I’m sure that all of the problems won’t be fixed, but perhaps the population estimates will get better and more reflective of what we actually see on the water. Along with the new science was a discussion about perhaps designing various stock reference points and management triggers to reflect a different set of values for the fishery, and how this will be an opportunity to take a new look at just how and for what values the striped bass fishery should be managed. Hopefully we will be able to influence this process to achieve more recognition of the socio-economic value of high quality angling.

Science and advocacy matters. Thanks to everyone who wrote and lobbied for no increase in the regulated harvest. Alone a single voice is nearly silent but together we have raised an awareness of the need to protect and conserve. I believe we have pricked and awakened the latent conscience of many regulators that are beginning to realize that no longer will the recreational fishermen and women silently allow commercially vested interests to destroy what is our fishery too.

Brad Burns, President
Stripers Forever​​​​​​​