• October 31, 2014

Public hearing date set on striped bass rules - The Star Democrat - Easton, Maryland: Environment

Public hearing date set on striped bass rules

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Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014 4:00 am | Updated: 11:35 am, Thu Sep 4, 2014.

WYE MILLS — Maryland’s public hearing on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s updated striped bass regulations is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25, in the Cadby Theater of the Kent Humanities Building at Chesapeake College, 1000 College Circle in Wye Mills.

The public hearing is a chance for people to voice their opinions on the proposed management options.

The ASMFC is an interstate fisheries body that sets management regulations for the entire East Coast.

The management proposals for striped bass, also known as rockfish, were released after an ASMFC fisheries board summer meeting in early August. The goal of the possible regulations is to return fishing mortality rates and the spawning stock biomass back to established reference points.

But Tom O’Connell, who is in charge of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said at the time of the proposal’s release that striped bass are not being overfished, nor is overfishing occurring, and also that the striped bass stock remains at a healthy level.

He said, however, that the female spawning stock biomass has been steadily declining, and the proposed regulations are a result of the ASMFC trying to prevent the female spawning stock biomass level from continuing to drop.

The proposed regulations address what ASMFC calls a “suite of management options to reduce recreational and commercial harvest along the coast and in the Chesapeake Bay under three reduction timeframes.”

One option is to reduce fishing mortality to its target in one year with a 25 percent reduction in 2013 harvest in 2015. The second is to reduce fishing mortality to its target within three years with a 17 percent reduction in 2013 harvest in 2015. The third option is to reduce fishing mortality to its target within three years with a 7 percent sequential reduction in harvest for three consecutive years starting in 2015, according to an ASMFC release.

But there are more variables to the management options.

O’Connell said earlier in August that the Chesapeake Bay, which is a nursery for striped bass, is mostly full of male striped bass. The ASMFC regulations are trying to control the female population.

However, the ASMFC’s technical committee has yet to come up with a reference point specific to the Chesapeake Bay. The technical committee at ASMFC is now tasked with the continued development of Chesapeake Bay-specific reference points for future use, according to the ASMFC release.

Public or written comment will be accepted by the ASMFC until 5 p.m. on Sept. 30, and should be forwarded to Mike Waine, the fishery management plan coordinator for ASMFC, at 1050 N. Highland St., Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201, or at mwaine@asmfc.org with the subject line “Draft Addendum IV,” according to ASMFC’s release.

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