Re: January 14th 2009 Gamefish Bill filed in Massachusetts
Next month the Massachusetts state joint committee on environment, natural resources and agriculture will hold a hearing on the game fish bill.
Meanwhile, this summer Massachusetts commercial striped bass fishermen landed 1,160,453 pounds of fish.
This fall the index reported below-average recruitment of juvenile Chesapeake striped bass. The 2009 index came in at 7.9, better than last year’s low of 3.2, but below the average of 11.7
All it takes is just one strong year class to assure the future of the stocks, fisheries managers report — but there hasn’t been a strong year class of juveniles since 2001 and 1996. Those fish are adults now and represent the bulk of the big fish that are out there. Anglers are concerned that without a good year class ahead, the future of the fishery is in trouble.
Sen. Robert O’Leary and state Rep Tim Madden sit on the committee that will hold next month’s hearing on the striped bass proposal. Senator O’Leary said he is opposed to the bill. Mr. Madden has said he is leaning against the gamefish status.
Coincidentally, the state’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission, which sets the rules and is responsible for managing the stocks in the state, will take up the decline in striped bass at its Jan. 14 meeting. The chairman of the commission, Mark Amorello, wrote a letter opposing the legislation.
The advisory commission is charged with coming up with the state’s fisheries regulations for the coming year. Even if the gamefish legislation fails, state regulators may enact new restrictions for commercial and recreational fishermen here.
Massachusetts is into the fourth year of a statewide moratorium on the catching of river herring. There are also moratoria in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The past two years has seen an increase in the number of herring returning to spawn. The recovery coincides with action taken in the Gulf of Maine to kick out fine-mesh draggers targeting sea herring, a different but similar species. The state wide moratorium is to expire in January of 2012.