Striped bass stock assessment is bleak

By Karl Blankenship for Bay Journal

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]triped bass, one of the most prized species in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast, are being overfished. This according to a new assessment of the stock’s health — a finding that will likely trigger catch reductions for a species long touted as a fisheries management success.

Spring Striper

A new stock assessment has found that the population of striped bass along the Atlantic Coast is being overfished and may trigger the need for catch reductions. (Chesapeake Bay Program)

The bleak preliminary findings of the assessment were presented to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a panel of fisheries managers, on Wednesday. The full analysis was not available. Its completion was delayed by the partial government shutdown, which sidelined biologists in the National Marine Fisheries Service who were working to complete the report.

But, noted Mike Armstrong of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, who also chairs the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Management Board, the final results “will likely be the same when [the report] comes out.”

Stripers at market.

The board asked its technical advisers to estimate the level of catch reductions needed to bring the stock above management targets at its May meeting, when the stock assessment is expected to be ready for approval.

“We know it is going to be pretty drastic,” said John Clark of the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, a member of the board.

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