There is no practical way to answer all of the questions swirling around the striped bass fishing community. This FAQ aims to answer some of the questions on many angler’s minds.  If you had additional questions you would like to see answered that are not included in the CCA Angler’s Guide to Amendment 7 or other striped bass website resources please let us know via email @ information@ccamd.org

Q:  I’ve heard that stripers are in decline, and that draft Amendment 7 is our best shot at rebuilding the population. What is Amendment 7? 

A: Think of Draft Amendment 7 as the blueprint to rebuild and manage the Atlantic Coast and Chesapeake striper fishery long term.

For the past few years, state and regional fishery management professionals and biologists have worked through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to develop the draft Amendment to update to the fishery management plan (FMP) for striped bass, the country’s most popular game fish. 

Once the ASMFC formally implements the plan, it will serve as the roadmap for striper management in Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters for many years to come. The plan lays out a set of “triggers” that when tripped require states to take corrective action to curb further decline in stripers. The public comment period ends on April 15, 2022. Click here to take action. For a more in-depth perspective, check our CCA Angler’s Guide to Draft Amendment 7

The Striped Bass Management Board will receive this public comment for their consideration at the May ASMFC meeting, and may approve a final update to the FMP.

Q: How did stripers decline to the point that makes Draft Amendment 7 necessary?

A: There is no single event that has led to the decline of stripers, rather a combination of factors. Overfishing, a technical term meaning that fishing mortality is above the levels management plans deem sustainable, has been the main driver.  Overall mortality estimates that managers use include impacts from the fishery(fishing mortality) and assumed levels of natural mortality.  Access to these fish and the pressure applied by fisheries is incredible, and environmental factors also effect the reproduction capability and survivability rates for these important fish.  In the past decade, galactic leaps in technology—fast, reliable boats; highly sophisticated fish finders; social media and text networks—have surely propelled anglers light years past where we were in terms of angling efficacy just ten years ago. 

Successive years of poor spawns in Chesapeake Bay, the major spawning grounds for stripers on the East Coast, have been observed over the last many years, and will continue to impact the rebuilding of the striper population over the next many years.   Changes in suitable habitat, degraded water quality, temperature swings and reduced availability of forage (prey) in Chesapeake Bay all play a role, too. 

Q: What are CCA’s top recommendations for Amendment 7 to rebuild the striped bass fishery?

A: CCA believes stripers should be managed for maximum abundance, as a rising tide lifts all ships, and provides the best opportunity for the public to access their fishery resources. Our members and many anglers want aggressive action to return to focus on rebuilding to previous levels of abundance.  Keys to rebuilding the striper population in a timely, sustainable way include:

  • Enacting reliable conservation measures to limit fishing mortality in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast.
  • Implementing strong, enforceable triggers linked to recruitment (spawning) failure. 
  • Investments in better state-based reporting systems to more accurately understand recreational angler impacts on stripers.

Q: How long will it take to rebuild the striper fishery? 

A:  The current management plan requires a 10 year timeline for rebuilding the biomass by reducing fishing mortality.  This 10 year clock is currently running, and started in 2019 with an 18% reduction in mortality with the adoption of Addendum VI.  On the water, rebuilding the striper fishery may take longer. 

Unfortunately, management can only forecast the recruitment based on what has happened in the past and observe success or failure after spawning occurs. Spawning success is largely out of our control, and it is possible that changing climate patterns are a major driver influencing spawning success and migration patterns. 

That said, state fishery managers can and should control fishing mortality(F). Also, any state can implement more conservative regulations across all sectors, recreational and commercial in advance of the ASMFC process. 

Q: Will there be changes to striper fishing regulations in Maryland and other coastal states in 2023?

A: Yes, it is likely that all states within the stripers’ range will be required to implement more strict regulations to reduce harvest. That said, more information will become available in October, 2022. That’s when the striped bass stock assessment update is scheduled for release, which will give us the first science-based look at the outcomes of the last reduction in fishing mortality, implemented in 2019. (Addendum VI)

Also in the fall of this year is when the Young-of-the-Year indices from Chesapeake Bay and other major spawning grounds will be released. These indices are a crucial indicator of future striper health and sustainability. Combined, these two factors could influence the final striper management plan. 

Q: I’ve heard some people say a moratorium is the only answer. Is it?

A: No, it is not the only answer.  A moratorium is a general term to mean no fishing season, but like all things in life, the real devil is in the details.  There is no doubt that more aggressive action to decrease or end fishing mortality may be necessary to bring this stock back to higher levels, but at this time, there are no short term plans to enact a coastwide moratorium.  Remember, any single state may implement measures more restrictive than ASMFC plans require, and the Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions should be watching recruitment and abundance levels closer than ever before to be ready to curb mortality if spawning success continues to lag.  It is important to note that the previous moratorium was not a coastwide and all sector shut down of fishing for stripers, it was largely focused in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

Q: What can I, my fishing friends and fishing club do to help CCA rebuild and conserve stripers?

A:  Join CCA, engage in the management process and volunteer at our events. Also, visit our Take Action page, where we have made it easy (just a few clicks of your mouse!) to send ASMFC your comments telling them to rebuild stripers now.  

Next, start building a relationship with your elected officials to let them know you support laws and regulations that protect the Chesapeake Bay’s marine resources, restore habitats, and improve water quality.

Remember, when on the water, you have the responsibility to follow the current laws and regulations, show respect for the resource, and focus your actions on those that will pass along a more abundant resource to your fellow anglers tomorrow future generations well into the future.  Many anglers, guides, and charter captains are not waiting for Maryland and other states to set regulations that better protect stripers.  You can join them today, by using setting your own catch and creel limits and focusing your fishing activities on ways that do not harm the fish you intend to release, or shifting to other species available throughout the year.  

For more information regarding CCA’s positions or actions on striped bass, please visit ccamd.org/stripedbass