Regional fishery regulators are extending emergency protections for striped bass they instituted in May through October 2024.
On Wednesday, the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to extend through Oct. 28, 2024 an emergency action that forbids the recreational catching of striped bass longer than 31 inches in the Chesapeake Bay and along the East Coast. The emergency action was previously set to expire this October.
The limits were put in place in response to a 2022 recreational harvest of striped bass that was nearly double that of 2021 and stock rebuilding projections, according to a news release.
The projections found that while there was a 97% chance of meeting 2029 stock rebuilding targets under the death rate seen in 2021, that figure drops to a 15% chance if last year’s death rate continues.
The extension will also allow the board to finalize new draft regulations to reduce striped bass mortality, which it will propose in October at the commission’s annual meeting. Those proposals will include management measures for the Chesapeake Bay recreational and commercial fisheries, including maximum size limits.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation scientist Chris Moore said the extension was the “right call,” but also urged the board to consider commercial catch limits and faulted it for not considering protections for striped bass during challenging periods of low oxygen and high temperature water conditions.
“Striped bass are in trouble,” Moore said. “These management options must be retained if we are to achieve the necessary reductions in fishing mortality that can ensure striped bass populations get back on track by 2029.”
Steve Atkinson, president of the Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association, said the group supports the extension.
“We continue to believe that conservation of menhaden is also necessary in the Chesapeake Bay since it produces 70% of all striped bass,” Atkinson said, referencing the small fish on which striped bass forage.