Striped Bass Management Is Key and Complex

On May 2 of this year at its annual spring meeting, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission made history in the now decades-long saga of America’s great “gamefish,” the striped bass.

By a vote of 15 to 1 (with New Jersey standing alone in opposition), and for only the third time in the body’s 70-plus-year history, “emergency action” was invoked, allowing the commission to rapidly augment the regulatory structure of a threatened fishery. That action in this case amounts to narrowing the coastwide slot limit, so as to ban the recreational harvest of striped bass under 28 inches and over 31 inches for a period of 180 starting no later than July 2.

The commission also initiated the development of an amendment to its current Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. This so-called Addendum II is intended to “address the concerns about increased removals and stock rebuilding beyond 2023.”

While leaving many asking if it’s too little, too late, the measure is undoubtedly a win for conservation advocates and wild fish activists. Whether it will be a win for the stripers has yet to be determined.

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