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Apr 23, 2019 10:33 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Talk Of Cutting Back On Striper Harvest In 2019

Some states are already talking about eliminating the harvest of large striped bass, like this nice one caught by Capt. Mike Saio, in 2019.
Apr 23, 2019 11:01 AM

It was nice to see, this week, that at least some in the fisheries regulation community would like to begin tightening the screws on striped bass harvests immediately—even if they still are a somewhat faint voice.Fisheries management staff in Virginia have recommended to that state’s fisheries commission that the state essentially eliminate the harvest of large striped bass immediately, in light of evidence that mortality of large, breeding fish must be reduced ASAP.

Virginia has a mind-numbingly complicated fishery for striped bass, which labors to balance fishing for those inside the Chesapeake and along its coasts. The bulk of their harvests target fish much smaller than anything we can keep in the Northeast but also includes a handful of regional spring “trophy” seasons that allows only fish over 36 inches to be kept in various stages of their migration out of the breeding areas and down the bay into the ocean in May and early June.

The staff has basically recommended—and thanks are due to the hardworking crew at On The Water magazine for spotlighting this—that these trophy seasons be eliminated entirely before they are set to open next month.

Now, these recommendations, I would guess, will be unlikely to be adopted by those on the appointed commission, who no doubt will be hearing a lot of concerns from charter fishermen and angling-related businesses who will be thinking that their wallets would take a big hit from the total elimination of these seasons.

But it will be a very interesting thing to keep an eye on—perhaps the first litmus for exactly how much support we will see for taking fast action on reversing the downward trend for striped bass stocks.

New York’s Marine Resources Advisory Committee canceled its April meeting for lack of a quorum, which is unfortunate, since it was the last chance for the state to offer a calculated position on striped bass management ahead of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Committee meeting next week, at which it will hold its first meaningful discussion of how the harvests of striped bass should be addressed.

I would hope that New York’s representatives, like those from all the other states, would be advocating for immediate action, in time to cut back on the number of stripers killed this year, rather than taking the slow road. Reversing course on fish stock declines is already enough like turning a cruise ship; now that we’ve seen the iceberg, we shouldn’t be strolling casually to the steering wheel.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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