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The news about striped bass along the northeastern coast just keeps getting worse. Seems the recreational catch of wild striped bass has now dropped 65 percent in just seven years. That’s a decline from 26 million fish in 2006 to about nine million in 2013. Those gloomy figures from the National Marine Fishery Service have just been corroborated by field reports from members of Stripers Forever (SF), a conservation organization that advocates sustainable management of stripers along the Atlantic Coast by giving them game fish–only status.
In a recent press release, SF’s Brad Burns summarized the member survey as follows: “The great majority of the 1,000-plus angling members from Maine to South Carolina who responded to our 2013 survey – the most comprehensive look available at how anglers feel about the health and the management of the striped bass resource – said that their striper fishing has gotten progressively ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’ over the past five years and that the fish they did catch were smaller. Unfortunately, poor fishing means fewer fishing trips and the socioeconomic loss to the U.S. economy is significant. Most of the professional fishing guides who responded to the survey agreed that the lack of fish continues to hurt their business.”
The release goes on to note that the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission finally agreed last November to seek ways to reduce striper mortality coastwide, but no progress has been made to date. To compound the problem, Virginia and Maryland have again caved to pressure from commercial interests and plan to increase the Chesapeake Bay striper harvest by 16 percent this year. “That decision is based on the fact that the 2011 youngof- the-year class of stripers – the one decent year class spawned recently in the Chesapeake Bay – will be 18 inches in length this spring and legal to catch. It’s the same ‘get-them-while-we-can’ maximum-yield approach that has greatly reduced and, in some cases, totally ruined many of our nation’s fisheries over the past 50 years.”
You can read the full results of the Stripers Forever survey by going to www.stripersforever.org. Click on “recent news.” While you are on the site, join Stripers Forever and add your voice to the growing clamor to stop this madness!