Stripers as a game fish
To Stripers Forever Members:
The following information, excerpted from a report on the February 2006 meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), will help you better understand why wild striped bass should be designated as game fish.
1. There will be no full stock assessment on striped bass for the year 2006. Instead, ?the Technical Committee will work on extensive improvements to the stock assessment process for the 2007 benchmark assessment?.
SF certainly has no problem with improving data. But in November of 2005, just four months ago, the ASMFC reassured everyone in a blue-sky press release that stock assessment data for striped bass was right on the mark. At that time, we warned everyone that the ASMFC had based their information on a drastically changed methodology that the ASMFC was using to count striped bass. Here is the link to our report: [url=http://www.stripersforever.org/Info/Stripers_Research/I006F4A48.0/2005%20stock%20status.doc:4ba6d]http://www.stripersforever.org/Info/Stripers_Research/I006F4A48.0/2005%20stock%20status.doc[/url:4ba6d] .
Had the ASMFC stuck with the original assessment methodology, we would have been drastically over-fishing the large stripers, and the spawning stock biomass would have slumped far below the acceptable ?threshold? level. The Stripers Forever annual fishing surveys, as well as the government?s own catch per unit effort evaluations indicate a marked decrease in the numbers of large fish that seem to be around. In some areas the decline is considered alarming.
If striped bass had game fish status and were fished for purely recreational use, there would already have been significant cuts in the fishing mortality on mature fish. The ASMFC does not want to entertain cuts because it will mean cuts in commercial quotas, and many of the ASMFC state directors think it is their job to deliver as much commercial quota as possible. This will not change as long as commercial fishing for striped bass is allowed.
2. A variety of new measures were put in place to limit what some see as unacceptable growth in the trophy striper fishery held in the Chesapeake Bay in the Spring. These measures included: limited number of permits, a cap on charter boats allowed to fish, no increase in the length of the season, elimination of possession tournaments prior to May 1, and an increase in minimum size during part of the season from 28 to 33 inches.
Stripers Forever neither defends nor attacks the spring trophy fishery. We know this is a point of considerable debate. One side says the sexually mature fish are there to breed and should be left alone, while another says that this is the only crack Bay area residents have at these large fish. But we should certainly be prohibiting the commercial taking of large fish in the coastal fishery before we stop recreational fishing. Right now we are essentially saying that an angler cannot catch his own fish, and if he wants a fish to eat, he must buy it at the market, which gets the fish from some guy from who pays $100.00 for a permit. The Massachusetts commercial fishery for large stripers is roughly comparable in size to the Bay trophy season, and almost all of the reported landings are for the exclusive benefit of a couple of hundred participants.
This is a classic example of corrupted public policy and it absolutely must be stopped. Commercial fishing was never meant to replace the public?s right to fish for their own wild striped bass.
The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements.
--- Horace Kephart