Stony Brook, N.Y. — A pair of meetings are set for this month in New York to gather public comment on proposed changes to striped bass management.
“Draft Addendum IV to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass” would address increased mortality with stripers and proposes “management options to reduce fishing mortality to the target level,” according to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
In essence, the commission is looking at a 25 percent reduction in the striped bass harvest to address a stock assessment through 2012 that showed female spawning numbers and the overall striper population are nearing a threshold of being overfished.
The changes could impact bag limits, size minimums, slot and trophy size limits for recreational anglers and quota reductions for the commercial fishery.
“The intention is the minimize the chance of overfishing and bring the biomass back to its target level,” said Mike Waine, fishery management plan coordinator for the ASMFC.
An original proposal would have cut the striper harvest by 31 percent.
Public comment on the proposal will be taken through Sept. 30.
In New York, public hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. at SUNY Stony Brook’s Wang Center, Room 201; and Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. at DEC’s Region 3 office, located at 21 S. Putts Corners Road in New Paltz.
Following a moratorium on striped bass fishing in the late 1980s, the commission has generally taken a cautious approach with striped bass management. The draft addendum proposes management measures designed to reduce striper mortality “to a level at or below the proposed target within one or three years.”
The striped bass assessment showed female spawning stock numbers have been declining since 2006, and fishing mortality in 2012 was above a proposed target level.
“This means even though the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, (the spawning stock biomass) is approaching its overfished threshold and stock projections show it will likely fall below the threshold in the coming years,” the commission said.
A similar decline has been seen in total striped bass harvest, officials said.
The proposal includes a series of management options aimed at reducing recreational and commercial harvest along the coast and in the Chesapeake Bay under three time frames. The time frames:
• reducing striper mortality to its target level in one year through a 25 percent harvest reduction.
• reducing mortality to target levels within three years with a 17 percent reduction in 2015.
• reducing mortality to the target level within three years via 7 percent harvest reductions in each of the next three years.