FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: April 17, 2019
Virginia Marine Resources Commission
Contact: Ellen Bolen
Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut Urge Swift Action to Protect and Rebuild Dwindling Striped Bass Stocks
~ Key fishing states ask Atlantic States Commission to move quickly on strong conservation measures ~
RICHMOND—Today, Virginia, along with Massachusetts and Connecticut, called on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to take swift action to protect and conserve striped bass for present and future generations of anglers.
In a letter to Chairman James S. Gilmore, Jr., the three states expressed serious concern regarding the overfished state of striped bass stocks and urged the Commission to adopt a new Addendum to Amendment 6 of the Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP), with the goal of significantly reducing fishing mortality.
A recent scientific assessment of striped bass shows the striped bass population has been below the sustainable threshold for the past 6 years and overfishing has been occurring since 2010.
“The state of our striped bass fishery is shameful, especially considering that it was fully rebuilt just a few years ago,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler, “We need immediate action to reduce striped bass harvests to sustainable levels to ensure we have better fishing in future seasons.”
The three states asked the ASMFC to start the process of developing an addendum to be finalized by the annual meeting in October, asking the Commission to consider a range of options, including season length and size limit, rewarding states who take early action.
“Conservation of this prized recreational and commercial species is crucial, and a recent assessment of striped bass has indicated that the resource is below a sustainable level,” Virginia Marine Resources Commissioner Steven Bowman said, “It is critical that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission takes strong and enforceable actions to address the striped bass decline no later than October 2019. The Commission should consider all options to reduce fishing mortality and incentivize states to take conservation actions this fishing season.”
“Scientific evidence and what fishermen in our states are seeing on the water tell us that bold action to protect striped bass is long overdue. Rebuilding striped bass stocks and sustaining them at target levels of abundance is incredibly important to fisheries in our states. We urge the Commission to implement measures that will reduce striped bass harvests to sustainable levels as quickly as possible,” the states said in their letter.
The three states have advised the ASMFC to commit to going beyond current measures to return striped bass stock to target level of biomass and fishing morality indicative of a healthy fishery.
“Virginia is proposing swift action in response to the scientific assessment to reduce catch and start to return this population to healthy levels,” Commissioner Bowman said, “We look forward to working with other states to ensure effective and enduring conservation measures are enacted throughout the range of the fishery”
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