Mystic, Conn. — Tightened regulations on both commercial and recreational striped bass fishing will take effect Jan. 1 under a proposal approved last month by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board.
The new regulations, hammered out after a series of public meetings in the Northeast and animated debate among fisheries and commission officials, will mean New York anglers will have a one-fish daily striper limit instead of the current two-fish limit. The current 28-inch size minimum will remain unchanged.
Commercial quotas will be reduced by 25 percent under the proposal triggered by an assessment of the striper stock which showed female spawning numbers and the overall striper population were approaching a threshold of being overfished.
If that pattern continued, the striper stock would likely fall below that threshold in the near future, commission officials said.
Recreational anglers, during a public comment period on the proposals, were overwhelmingly in favor of the tightened regulations on both themselves and commercial fishermen.
But disagreements surfaced during the 10-hour meeting: Chesapeake Bay representatives (from Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission) questioned the need for the immediate quota cut as well as the methodology used to arrive at that recommendation.
Emerson Hasbrouck, a New York member of the committee, also questioned whether the one-year, immediate harvest reduction would lead to the quickest recovery of the striper stock.
But DEC’s director of marine resources, James Gilmore, noted that the one-year reduction was the ideal move to allow fisheries managers to assess whether those management efforts were working before the next assessment of the striper stock was conducted.
Chesapeake Bay representatives ultimately backed off their calls for a 17 percent harvest reduction or a three-year plan in which the harvest would be cut by 7 percent each year.
But Chesapeake Bay states and jurisdictions will impose a 20.5 percent harvest reduction from 2012 levels “since their fisheries were reduced by 14 percent in 2013 based on their management program,” the board said in a news release.
Board chairman Douglas Grout of New Hampshire said the board “struck an important balance in taking immediate action to reduce fishing mortality back to the target while also recognizing the unique characteristics of the Chesapeake Bay fishery. The action will assure a more rapid response in the abundance of spawning fish, which has been declining in recent years.”
According to the interstate fishery management plan, states may develop alternative proposals, as long as they achieve the same reduction goals. The board will review those proposals at its winter meeting in Alexandria, Va.