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Stripers Forever members –NOAA Fisheries has posted the updated official estimates of the recreational catch of striped bass to their website. Using this data, we’ve created a graph that displays the recreational catch, both for the entire Atlantic Coast and for Massachusetts only. We’ve singled out Massachusetts because we have filed three bills in this session of the legislature, one of which is a striped bass game fish bill. The recreational catch has fallen by more than 70% since the peak in 2006, and with very few small fish coming into the fishery these numbers will continue to decline. The population of large older fish that make up the bulk of the current striped bass biomass will continue to provide some fishing opportunities for a few years, but unless regulations change to catch and release only, the already reduced spawning potential will be further eroded.

The publicity surrounding the wasteful trawler fishery off the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the criminal gill net fishery in Maryland has caught everyone’s attention these days, and certainly, these are shocking events –although it’s no great secret that activities like this have gone on for many years. Changing those commercial net fisheries to rod and reel harvest only wouldn’t necessarily make the problem go away. For example, in Massachusetts there are nearly 4,000 commercial permit holders to keep an eye on, and nowhere near the enforcement capability available to do it. Less than a third of all commercial permit holders reported catching or selling any fish at all. The desire to not reach the state’s quota too quickly, and to avoid income taxes by selling for cash, are both considerable incentives to hide your actual catch. Just as everyone close to the scene knows that the problems in NC and MD have been going on for years, so too do people in Massachusetts know that the commercial quota there is vastly overachieved. One Massachusetts man was caught last summer fishing in Rhode Island with a false deck in his boat that when opened via a hidden switch, revealed a fish box full of illegally harvested striped bass. Is it likely that this was this man’s first time out, or that he planned to report these fish? We all know the answer to that. We constantly receive e-mails that tell us of the under the table peddling of striped bass to restaurants and fish markets all over Cape Cod.



No amount of rules or enforcement effort is going to stop this once great fishery from being degraded by commercial fishing both legal and illegal. Nothing will do the job except for the outright prohibition of the sale of wild striped bass. We need to cut back the recreational catch too, perhaps drastically at this point. Once striped bass have been made a game fish we can charge the ASMFC with setting targets that will put striped bass back on the track they were following in the late 1990s. Nothing less than this is going to work, and the longer we wait the deeper the hole is going to get.

Brad Burns President of Stripers Forever

To see the latest recreational catch statistics and graph follow this link to the SF website.
 

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Thanks for the information. We need change NOW! Stripers are one of my favorite fish and the species that got me hooked on fishing when I caught my first fish at the James River Bridge. North Carolina HAS to get rid of the nets and begin managing the fishery!
 

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Capt Skid,

Stripers Forever provides a lot of great information about the coastal stock of stripers and they work hard for the stripers. I would like suggest everyone should show their support for this organization and sign up. They are also a member of the Menhaden Coalition. I support Brad's efforts! Kuddos for posting this! :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:

Kevin
Weekend Mistress

NO BAIT = NO FISH = NO FISHERMEN
 
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