Fisheries Management
& Legislative Report

by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association November 2021 Newsletter)

Contents:

Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board
October 20, 2021

Meeting Summary

The Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board (Board) met to consider approval of Draft Amendment 7 for public comment and to consider approval of Draft Addendum VII to Amendment 6 for public comment.

The Board received an overview presentation of the management options developed for Draft Amendment 7. The Plan Development Team (PDT) and the Technical Committee (TC) met multiple times between May and September to develop Draft Amendment 7. The Advisory Panel (AP) also met to provide feedback on the scope of draft options, which was included in the staff presentation. In August 2020, the Board initiated development of Amendment 7 to the Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to update the management program to better align with current fishery needs and priorities, and build upon the Addendum VI action to end overfishing and initiate rebuilding. Since Amendment 6 was adopted in 2003, the status and understanding of the striped bass stock and fishery has changed considerably. The 2018 benchmark stock assessment indicated the striped bass stock has been overfished since 2013 and is experiencing overfishing, which changed perception of stock status. In May 2021, the Board approved the following four issues for development in Draft Amendment 7: management triggers, measures to protect the 2015 year class, recreational release mortality, and conservation equivalency.

The Board discussed the proposed management options for each of the four issues and removed some options from the document, primarily due to concerns that certain options would not be viable for implementation. For management triggers Tier 1 (fishing mortality triggers), the Board removed draft options A3, C2, and C4. For management triggers Tier 2 (female spawning stock biomass triggers), the Board removed draft options C2 and C4. For measures to protect the 2015 year class, the Board removed draft option E (recreational harvest moratorium). For recreational release mortality, the Board removed draft options B1 and B2 for seasonal closures, and draft options C2, C3, and C4 for gear restrictions. For conservation equivalency, the Board removed draft option F (prohibition of CE).

The Board tasked the PDT with development of new options to add to the Draft Amendment 7 for the Board’s review at the 2022 Winter Meeting. For the fishing mortality (F) threshold management trigger, the Board added a draft option to consider a 2-year average of F in addition to a 3-year average. The Board tasked the PDT with developing a formal rebuilding plan for striped bass that could include a status quo F target and another option that would establish a F(rebuild) calculated as the F value projected to achieve SSB(rebuild) no later than 2029 under the assumption of the low recruitment regime. The Board also tasked the PDT with adding maximum size limit/slot options to the Chesapeake Bay recreational fishery measures section for protecting the 2015, 2017, and 2018 year classes.

The Board received an overview presentation of the management options developed for Draft Addendum VII to Amendment 6. The presentation included a report from the PDT regarding concerns about commercial quota transfers. The issue of commercial quota allocation was not approved for development in Draft Amendment 7. In order to provide a management option that could provide some immediate relief to states that were seeking a change in commercial quota allocation, the Board initiated Draft Addendum VII in August 2021 to consider allowing voluntary transfers of coastal commercial quota. Due to the PDT’s concerns and the Board’s current focus on Draft Amendment 7, the Board deferred consideration of Draft Addendum VII until May 2022 to allow for further development and review of the transfer options.

For more information, please contact Emilie Franke, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at efranke@asmfc.org or 703.842.0740.

Tautog Managment Board
Press Release: October 18, 2021

Tautog Regional Assessments Update Show Improvements in Stock Status

Arlington, VA – The Commission’s Tautog Management Board reviewed the results of 2021 Regional Stock Assessments Update, which found improvements in most regions. Stocks within the Long Island Sound (LIS) and Delaware/ Maryland/Virginia (DelMarVa) regions are not overfished, with improved stock status for both regions from the last assessment in 2017. For LIS, New Jersey/New York Bight (NJNYB), and DelMarVa, fishing mortality also decreased with the stock not experiencing overfishing in any regions; also an improvement from the previous assessment. In the Massachusetts and Rhode Island (MARI) region, stock status remains unchanged with the stock not overfished nor experiencing overfishing.

Each regional assessment used information through 2020, including calibrated recreational data from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). Over 90% of the total harvest of tautog across all regions comes from the recreational fishery. In addition to regional indices of abundance from fishery- independent surveys, a catch per unit effort index was developed using MRIP data for each region because tautog are not easily sampled by standard fishery-independent surveys. The new MRIP estimates resulted in higher estimates of spawning stock biomass (SSB) and recruitment in all regions, but had less of an impact on fishing mortality.

The regional assessments for MARI and LIS indicated strong year classes in recent years have contributed to increasing trends in SSB. In the DelMarVa region, landings and fishing mortality have declined significantly since 2012, resulting in an increase in SSB over the time period. While the NJ-NYB region remains overfished, the SSB has been trending upward since the last assessment update.

Since no regions are experiencing overfishing, the Board chose to not make any management changes at this time. A more detailed overview of the tautog regional stock assessment update is available on the Commission website at this link. It was developed to aid media and interested stakeholders in better understanding the results. The assessment update will be available on the Commission website on the tautog webpage the week of October 25th.

For more information on the stock assessments, please contact Katie Drew, Stock Assessment Team Lead, at kdrew@asmfc.org; and for more information on tautog management, please contact Kirby Rootes-Murdy, Senior FMP Coordinator, at krootes-murdy@asmfc.org.


Tautog Stock Status and Reference Points by Region

Stock RegionSpawning Stock Biomass (in millions of pounds)Fishing MortalityStock Status
TargetThreshold2020 EstimateTargetThreshold3-year Average
MARI10.097.5714.900.280.490.23Not overfished; overfishing not occurring
LIS14.8311.1214.700.260.380.30Not overfished; overfishing not occurring
NJ-NYB14.4510.7810.540.190.300.26Overfished; overfishing not occurring
DelMarVa9.907.409.660.170.270.06Not overfished; overfishing not occurring
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