The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted 10-4 to reject a proposal to increase the commercial harvest of Atlantic striped bass in state waters Tuesday. In May, the ASMFC proposed an addendum to its current striped bass management plan, which would have increased the commercial striped bass quota by up to 50 percent. Striped bass is a popular sportfish and the nation’s largest marine recreational fishery. Recreational anglers from across the country are united in opposition to this proposal, which would have had negative impacts on the striped bass fishery as well as the businesses and communities that depend on it.
“The sportfishing industry applauds the Commission’s decision,” said American Sportfishing Association Vice President Gordon Robertson. “After months of deliberation, state managers have voted on the side of sound science and conservation, protecting this important fishery from over harvesting and a potential repeat of the collapse of the 1980s.”
A recent report by the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Technical Committee predicts a steady decline of the number of adult striped bass through the year 2015, without consideration of increased commercial harvest.
In 2007, President George W. Bush issued an executive order declaring gamefish status for the striped bass and barring commercial harvest in federal waters. Despite their gamefish status, striped bass populations in the Atlantic are subject to significant and unreported poaching. Additionally, menhaden, an important prey species for striped bass, has reached its lowest abundance in recorded history as a result of commercial overharvesting.
The Atlantic striped bass fishery has experienced several declines over the past few decades. While the fishery has shown a tremendous recovery since the 1980s, numerous reports have noted decreased catches over the last several years. “This addendum angered and shocked anglers from the outset,” Robertson stated. “Atlantic striped bass stocks are being threatened from several different fronts. In addition to illegal harvest in federal waters, more than 70 percent of striped bass are afflicted by the deadly disease Mycobacteriosis in the Chesapeake Bay, the stock’s primary spawning ground. Any increase in commercial fishing pressure in state waters could lead to a collapse for this economically and recreationally important fishery.”
“With the disease and forage fish challenges in the future of Atlantic striped bass stocks, it is important that the ASMFC continues to take a cautious approach to managing the fishery,” Robertson concluded. “The ASMFC decision is the first step to ensuring the vitality of this important fishery. The sportfishing community looks forward to working with managers to conserve and strengthen Atlantic striped bass stocks.”
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association, committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice, speaking out on behalf of sportfishing and boating industries, state and federal natural resource agencies, conservation organizations, angler advocacy groups and outdoor journalists when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. We invest in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also represents the interests of America’s 40 million anglers who generate over $45 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for over one million people.