CALL FOR ACTION
We apologize for the short notice on this Call For Action, but it is a chance for you to have a positive influence on how striped bass are managed. All indications and data suggest that the coastwide recreational catch of striped bass has been declining since 2006 – an eye-popping 70% drop in just 5 years. Add to that the poor spawning year classes since 2003, and the resulting lack of recruitment of young fish into the population, and the future does not look very promising. The striped bass population is being propped up by the good year classes of late 1990’s, plus 2001 and 2003, but if these now legal bass are overfished, as they are being now, and are not replaced, we could witness an epic crash in the striped bass population over the next 5-10 years.
There are real problems with the fisheries management plan for striped bass and it all starts with commercial and recreational fishing mortality rates that are too high, and triggers for management board action that are unrealistic. Action by the Striped Bass Management Board is like turning an ocean liner – it takes forever. So while the population continues to decline precipitously, the Striped Bass Management Board appears to be unresponsive. All of this scares the daylights out of us at Stripers Forever, and is all the more reason why gamefish status for striped bass is critical.
But there is something you can do to help – RIGHT NOW!
On Wednesday March 23, 2011, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board will hold their winter/spring 2011 meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. Stripers Forever learned recently of a very important agenda item for this board meeting which is a proposal by the Maine Department of Natural Resources requesting that the board consider initiating an addendum to the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass to reduce coastwide mortality on striped bass. Other state marine fisheries directors, including Massachusetts, are recognizing the problems with the striped bass population and the lack of response from the management board. The board will be discussing this agenda item and taking possible action next week. It is unknown how many states will support this proposal, but we need as many fishermen as possible to urge your own state’s representative to the Striped Bass Management Board to support it. We also need you to contact the ASMFC directly in support of this proposal.
Attached is a PDF file with all the members of the Striped Bass Management Board. We suggest you start by emailing your own state director, then other board members from your state if possible.
It is critical for you to email Robert Beal, the ASMFC’s interstate fisheries management plan coordinator for striped bass at [email protected].
Here is some sample language. Please cut and paste it into an email and send it to as many of your state’s representatives on the Striped Bass Management Board as you can, as well as Robert Beal at the ASMFC.
I am writing with serious concerns about the current trends in the data for the coastal striped bass population. Specifically I am very disturbed by the fact that the over all recreational catch of striped bass on the Atlantic coast has decreased by 70% since 2006. Concurrently, the Young of the Year index from the Maryland sections of the Chesapeake Bay have been very poor since 2003, resulting in extremely low recruitment into the coastal striped bass population. It is my strong belief that current fishing mortality rates set by the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass are too high and are resulting in unsustainable levels of striped bass mortality.
I strongly support the proposal by the Maine Department of Natural Resources that asks the Striped Bass Management Board to create an addendum to reduce coastwide mortality on striped bass. I am aware this is an agenda item for the Striped Bass Management Board at the ASMFC Winter/Spring 2011 Meeting in Alexandria, Virginia on March 23. I want to go on record as supporting this proposal and I urge the Striped Bass Management Board to take positive action to move forward with generating a new addendum to Amendment 6 of the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass that will address reducing coastwide striped bass mortality as soon as possible.