Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, February 5-7, 2019

The preliminary results of the new assessment indicate that Striped Bass are overfished and overfishing is occurring. The Board tasked its Technical Committee with determining the level of harvest reductions necessary to stop overfishing. However, as expected, some Board members expressed a desire to change (lower) the reference points, I assume to lessen the degree of the reductions in harvest. The optics of this are not particularly good as it appears that the goal post is being moved because one is losing the game. However, because the spawning stock biomass (SSB) threshold has been set empirically since the stock recovered in 1995, the Board does have some latitude to adjust the reference points. In doing so, however, one should ask how does such an adjustment jeopardize full recovery of the stock and what would the recreational fishery look like with recovery under a different, and very likely, smaller, reference point value. 

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