Striped Bass Addendum VI - New Regs Looming for 2020

by Paul Haertel
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association September 2019 Newsletter)

In May 2019, the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board initiated the development of an addendum to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass to consider changes to coastwide commercial and recreational regulations to address overfishing. This Draft Addendum presents background on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s management of striped bass; the addendum process and timeline; and a statement of the problem. This document also provides management options for public consideration and comment. The public is encouraged to submit comments regarding this document at any time during the public comment period. The final date comments will be accepted is October 7, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. Comments may be submitted at state public hearings or by mail, email, or fax. If you have any questions or would like to submit comment, please use the contact information below. Organizations planning to release an action alert in response to this Draft Addendum should contact Max Appelman at 703.842.0740. Email: Max Appelman, FMP Coordinator, at (Subject: Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI) or mail Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, 1050 North Highland Street Suite 200A-N, Arlington, VA 22201. Phone: (703) 842-0740, Fax: (703) 842-0741.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife will host the following hearings in New Jersey:

For more information regarding the NJ hearings, contact Heather Corbett at (609) 748-2020. Addendum VI may be viewed at this link.

JCAA member clubs as well as individuals are urged to review the addendum and comment on it. JCAA will take a formal position on this addendum at our next general membership meeting on September 24th. However, back in April and prior to the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Board making a decision to initiate an addendum, JCAA unanimously voted in favor of writing to them requesting that they take action to improve our striped bass stocks and to determine factors impacting their availability in state waters.

Briefly, there are a few things in the addendum that I’d like to clarify. There are three options in the addendum. Option 1 is Status Quo. However, it is unlikely that this option will be chosen based on the board’s apparent desire to initiate this addendum to rebuild the stocks. Option 2 calls for an 18% reduction for the recreational sector and an 18% reduction by the commercial sector. Option 3 would require a 20% reduction for the recreational sector and only a 1.8% reduction for the commercial sector. It should be noted that JCAA vehemently opposes this option and has been advocating for gamefish or no-sale status for striped bass along the entire east coast for many years. It would be wrong for recreational fishermen to be forced to take more of a cut so that the commercial sector could benefit especially considering all the stocks that they have devastated over the years.

Under Options 2 and 3 there are various sub-options. These include options with a minimum size as well as several in which only slot sized fish could be harvested. While it is fine to comment on any of them, it is likely that the ASMFC will approve all or most of them. What this means is that these options would be pre-approved if any state chose to enact one of them. However, the addendum allows for conservation equivalency which means that each state will be allowed to develop its own regulation provided it results in the mandated reduction. For instance, a state might choose to have a 28” minimum but meet the required reduction by reducing the length of their seasons. Something like that might work as the season could be closed while the fish are spawning or during the summer when the water temperatures are elevated causing the catch and release mortality to increase. However, any such proposed regulations would first have to be submitted to the ASMFC’s technical committee. Once reviewed and approved the state could then enact it.

As mentioned previously, comments on the addendum will be accepted until October 7th. Then at their next meeting later that month the board will choose one of the options and finalize the addendum. States will then be able to choose one of the pre-approved sub-options or develop some of their own. The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council will then decide on the regulations for 2020 in one of their upcoming meetings. This could be as early as November but my guess is that it will be in January. JCAA will keep you posted on the options once they come out along with the times and dates of the meetings. Watch for our email alerts or follow us on Facebook for updates.

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