The number one species caught recreationally in the country
Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) is a long-lived, anadromous species, which means they return from the ocean to a freshwater river annually to spawn. Striped bass are one of the most sought-after fish on the Atlantic coast – a highly prized game fish with a large following of avid anglers, and a many number of regionally specific names like striper, rockfish, bass, linesider, cow(s), schoolies…etc. According to the latest NOAA Fisheries data, striped bass are the number one species caught recreationally in the country (in pounds).
Striped bass are managed from Maine to North Carolina by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission(ASMFC) under the guidance of the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act and Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Management Act. Adult striped bass live in the ocean for most of the year, spending the summer generally off the New England coastline and the winter off the Mid –Atlantic. The adults migrate up their natal river in the spring to spawn. After spawning, the young migrate to the estuary at the mouth of the natal river and spend several years there. They begin migrating to the ocean to join the adult stock at about age 5 and are mostly gone from the bays and estuaries by age 7. This coastal stock moves up the Atlantic coast in the summer and back south during the winter.
Management agencies use juvenile index or Young of Year(YOY) surveys to track spawning success, and recruitment from year to year, and periods of both low and high recruitment are the norm. Conditions have to be near perfect for stripers to have a successful spawn and generate an above-average year class, which is why they have evolved to live 25-plus years – to withstand several years of below average recruitment. This coastal stock is subject to intense fishing pressure as it moves up and down the Atlantic coast, right next to the most populous coastal areas in the country.
Current Status of striped bass: Overfished & Overfishing is occurring
In the 2020 fishing season, the Atlantic states which have striped bass fisheries implemented new regulations guided by Addendum VI of Amendment 6 to the Striped Bass Management plan of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. This action focused on reducing total removals from the striped bass stock in 2020 and beyond by 18% based on 2017 levels. This change is projected to lower fishing mortality below it’s threshold rate to end the current overfishing status, and begin rebuilding the population to it’s target levels. In late 2020, the next chapter in striped bass management began with the development of a Public Information Document(PID) to guide Amendment 7