The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Striped Bass Board Extends Emergency Regulations Yet Delays Action on Updating Coast-Wide Fishery Management Plan.

(Arlington VA) – On Aug. 1, the Striped Bass Management Board (Board) of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted to extend the emergency regulation that previously set a 31-inch maximum recreational size limit across the entire recreational fishery in Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coast. The emergency measure was initially adopted by the Board at its May meeting, and it is now extended from Oct. 28, 2023 to Oct. 28, 2024, or until the implementation of Addendum II, whichever comes first. The Chesapeake Bay “Trophy” season is exempt from this action, but may be modified through the Addendum II process, possibly affecting the season and size limits for the May 2024 portion of Maryland’s fishery.

The Board also delayed implementation of Addendum II of the Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which is focused on rebuilding the striper population to coastwide goals by the 2029 deadline. A complicated document, Addendum II contains a range of options designed to reduce fishing mortality and protect breeding sized fish. Barring any additional delays, Addendum II should be approved at the ASMFC’s October meeting with public hearings to be held in late 2023. It will then come back to the ASMFC for final approval at the January meeting.

David Sikorski, CCA Maryland Executive Director and member of the Maryland delegation to the ASMFC,  issued the following statement:

 “Moving the emergency action forward was an important stop gap measure to balance fishing mortality in the recreational fishery. Unfortunately, the delay in advancing draft Addendum II leaves uncertainty in our ability to meet our rebuilding goals and reduce overall fishing mortality ahead of the 2024 fishing year. Between now and the October 2023 meeting, draft Addendum II will be updated and provided to the Board and posted online. I look forward to working with my fellow Board members to ensure that we reduce the removals of striped bass in every meaningful way possible, and as soon as we can. Recruitment failure in the Chesapeake will continue to plague the abundance of this iconic fish in our waters, and soon impact the availability of fish for coastal fisheries. States can be more conservative than coast-wide measures, and I hope my fellow Chesapeake Bay region Board members are ready to join me to discuss making meaningful cuts that are based on reducing fishing mortality here while protecting spawning aged fish, and doing so through a robust and highly transparent stakeholder driven process. Our striped bass fishery is too important to too many people to do otherwise at this time.”