See below… Fishing hard and trying to keep my head above water at my day job, so no time to comment in detail on this right now, but any regular reader of this column knows what the deal is.
Very quickly, before reading the below press release, keep in mind that there is some new news here. It appears that mangers do now indeed recognize that 8+yearold fish are declining, and also recognize that natural mortality (read mycobacteriosis) is increasing, and that there will be little that managers will be able to do to maintain current levels of harvest or abundance. And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg as managers are acknowledging trouble ahead with several consecutive years of poor recruitment. I could go on, but it all looks like bad news if you are a striper fisherman.
One more thing… You may have read here and elsewhere that the recreational fishery accounts for close to 80% of the overall catch and that the recreational discard mortality is actually double the total commercial take. According to the latest numbers, that’s no longer the case. Recreational catches now appear to have declined to the point where the ratio of commercial-to-recreational catches appears to be closer to 50/50. But that’s not the point really. The point is that the stock appears to have taken a definitive turn downward and any increase in mortality at this point is just plain stupid. It’s time to rally the troops. Stand by for details on public hearings and where to send comments. We’ll need to get off our collective butts and make a big showing for this one.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 6, 2010
PRESS CONTACT, TINA BERGER, 202/289-6400
ASMFC Striped Bass Board Approves Draft Addendum II for Public Comment
Alexandria, VA – The Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board has approved Draft Addendum II to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass for public comment. The Draft Addendum proposes two changes to the striped bass management program: (1) an increase in the coastal commercial quota, and (2) revising the definition of recruitment failure based on Technical Committee advice.
The proposal to increase the coastal commercial quota is intended to improve equality between the commercial and recreational fishery sectors.
Although Amendment 6 established management programs for both fisheries based on the same target fishing mortality rate, the implementation of state-specific quotas for coastal commercial harvest (and not for recreational harvest) has prevented the commercial and recreational fisheries from responding equally to changes in striped bass population size. Since 2004, coastal commercial harvest has decreased by 3.6 percent, while recreational harvest has increased by 13.7 percent. Under the option, the Board would select a percent increase to be applied to the coastal commercial allocations assigned in Amendment 6.
The Management Board voted to include a second issue in the Draft Addendum based on information presented at the meeting. As part of its review of the juvenile abundance indices, the Striped Bass Technical Committee recommended to the Management Board a revision to how striped bass recruitment failure is defined. Juvenile abundance indices are an important component of the striped bass monitoring program and are used to determine periods of recruitment failure which can trigger management action under Amendment 6. Adopting the proposed recommendation would result in a fixed value to determine recruitment failure in each surveyed area rather than a value that changes from year to year. Use of either the Amendment 6 definition or the Technical Committee recommendation for recruitment failure does not result in any necessary changes to the current management program.
It is anticipated that the majority of states will be conducting public hearings on the Draft Addendum. A press release will be issued once the details of the hearings have been finalized and the Draft Addendum is available for public comment. For more information, please contact Nichola Meserve, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator at (202) 289-6400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.