by Capt. Steve Byrne
For the past week or so, one of the hottest topics on noreast.com has been What's Your Take on the Striped Bass Population
posted in the General Fishing Forum. If you doubt – even for a second – just how passionate we are about our stripers, read through some of the comments and you'll be quickly relieved of that notion. Whether the member expressed the belief that everything is just ducky, or that the sky is falling, there were plenty of intense emotions that came through the posts.
Some factually incorrect statements were made, and I thought we should just spend a minute getting a handle on the real numbers. I'm getting my facts from www.asmfc.org
so if you want to know more, you can go there and check out the latest Fisheries Management Plan for striped bass.
For those who think everything is just great in the world of striped bass, the favorite sentence in the 2011 review is "The stock was not overfished and overfishing was not occurring in 2010..."
The sky is falling crowd, however, is quick to point to the rest of the line, "…although total striped bass population abundance declined 37 percent from 2004." Equally concerning is the 2010 recreational catch estimate, which is the lowest since 1995 and represents a 70 percent decline from the peak in 2006.
I suppose you could take the position that the peak in '06 was an aberration and is a poor yardstick by which to measure the stock going forward. After all, you can't expect a fishery to remain at its all-time high for years on end.
To me, if the declines in abundance and landings aren't enough to make you go, "Hmm," you probably aren't paying attention, or you have some other priority that comes ahead of the health of the fishery. But, that's just my opinion, and we all know what that's worth.
I'll be in the Nor'east Saltwater Booth at the Freeport Show this Sunday. If you're there, stop by and say hello. You can sign up for the giveaway from Oyster Bay Marine for noreast.com members, or we can talk stripers, and you can even tell me all about how the stock is in great shape – I'm always glad to listen.