This past fall, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) adopted more conservative reference points for striped bass and agreed to reduce fishing mortality to the target level in less than two years. The decision requires Atlantic coastal states from Maine to North Carolina to implement measures prior to the 2015 fishing season in order to achieve a 25 percent reduction in the coastal harvest and a 20.5 percent reduction in the Chesapeake Bay.
According to Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the new measures mean that recreational anglers fishing coastal waters will see the harvest limit change from two fish at 28 inches to one fish at 28 inches, or an alternative plan will be devised to achieve a 25 percent reduction. For recreational anglers on the Chesapeake Bay, the spring trophy season will see the size-length minimum increase to 36 inches from 28 inches; the season length and daily limit of one fish is expected to remain the same. The biggest change, which has drawn a lot of criticism, is that from May 15th to December 15th the two-fish limit will remain for bay anglers, but the minimum size will increase from 18 inches to 20 inches. Much of the criticism is based on the fact that commercial fishermen do not face the same size limits. The bay fishery is unique because most of its fish are male and restrictions have little impact on the success of breeding coastal females.
The DNR issued the following statement: “We know that the inconsistency of size limits between commercial and recreational fisheries has been an issue of stakeholder concern. While ASMFC does not require them to be consistent, we plan to have further discussions with our stakeholders given their interest in this issue. It should be recognized that if the commercial size limit increases the commercial quota could be increased through conservation equivalency. Additionally, stakeholders need to take into consideration the fact that discard mortality would increase under commercial minimum-size limit increases.”
It will be interesting to see what actions the DNR will eventually take. Historically, the department has not succeeded in managing marine resources. Evidence of commercial influence is obvious when the DNR still allows power dredging of oysters when the Bay population of oysters is .3 percent of historic levels.
Take In A Show
Winter in the Mid-Atlantic offers many indoor boat shows throughout the region, which provide a chance to see the latest gear, services and boats, and to walk around
in a large, warm space visualizing what you will be doing in the spring and summer. Most shows also offer free entertainment and educational seminars with admission, but visit the show websites for complete information. A few of the larger shows include the Baltimore Boat Show (January 29-February 1) and the Mid-Atlantic Sports and Boat Show in Virginia Beach (February 6-8), which is owned by the Norfolk chapter of the Izaak Walton League, a non-profit conservation organization.
By Christopher Knauss, Southern Boating January 2015