Atlantic Striped Bass Verging on Collapse Again
Decision on how to protect this “everyman’s fish” (Amendment 7) delayed until February.
The Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has delayed a decision on whether or not to accept a draft of “Amendment 7” to the long-term Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass and to send out the final document for public comment. Amendment 7 is the latest proposal to update the plan, which seeks to sustainably manage the Atlantic striped bass population. It was proposed to address the fact that the stock is overfished (the number of spawning-aged fish is depleted to an unsustainable point) and overfishing is occurring (fish are being harvested at an unsustainable rate), first shown in 2019. The benchmark stock assessment came out in 2018 with 2017 as the most recent data, showing that the striped bass spawning stock biomass was 25 percent under the management threshold. That tripped management triggers that required two things: To end overfishing and to rebuild the stock. Addendum 6 to Amendment 6 addressed overfishing but stock rebuilding has yet to be addressed.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recently released results of its 2021 Young-of-the-Year Survey which tracks recruitment of striped bass in Chesapeake Bay–easily the most important spawning area for this iconic species. The 2021 juvenile bass index came in at 3.2, which is well below the average of 11.4 and means that reproduction was severely low for the third year in a row (it was 2.5 in 2020 and 3.4 in 2019). The future of the Atlantic striped bass is in peril if steps are not taken to protect it.