The Stage is Set for a Showdown in February
By Tony Friedrich for Fissues.org
As you are probably aware, striped bass management is getting hit from all sides. The newest stock assessment will be ready in February 2019. In the meantime, some states are thinking it might be a good idea to lower the biological reference points (BRPs) for the species. In layman’s terms, BRPs are used to count how many fertile, female fish we leave in the system. If you lower the BRPs, you are saying that there doesn’t need to be so many fish left uncaught. However, we have the ability to stand up for striped bass and make sure our kids and grandchildren have the same opportunities we experienced.
There is also talk of opening the EEZ for striper harvest. Representative Zeldin’s amendment to HR 200 would do that with a small area around Block Island and open Pandora’s Box for our favorite fish. Much like pulling a thread on a sweater, it won’t take much for the striped bass management to unravel once even the smallest section of the EEZ is opened.
Our record of success managing striped bass on the East Coast has been hit or miss during the last few years. In October 2014, the Striped Bass Management Board approved Addendum IV, which implemented a 25% reduction in harvest for the coastal stocks and a 20.5% reduction in harvest for the Chesapeake Bay. Coastal states used 2013 as the baseline year while the bay states used 2012. The reasoning for this was based on a 14% reduction taken by the bay states in 2013. All states had to have plans in place to meet these new goals by the beginning of the 2015 fishing season.