A coalition of recreational fishing and boating organizations wrote to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) urging commissioners to end overfishing and begin rebuilding striped bass by implementing an 18 percent harvest reduction for the recreational and commercial fisheries. The ASMFC will make their decision on Wednesday, October 30, 2019.
In their letter, the American Sportfishing Association, BoatU.S., Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, National Marine Manufacturers Association and Recreational Fishing Alliance offer support for the 18 percent reduction in striped bass removals to ensure a healthy future for this economically important fishery. The coalition stands by the cooperative process of the ASMFC and understands that tough management decisions must be made for the benefit of these shared resources. The management system under the ASMFC is successful thanks to state fisheries managers working together to manage a natural resource that knows no state boundaries.
Furthermore, the group supports implementing the mandatory use of circle hooks when fishing with bait across all states and jurisdictions to reduce discard mortality. The effectiveness of non-offset circle hooks has been proven through more than a decade of mandatory use in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fisheries.
"Atlantic striped bass management has been successful under cooperative, state-based management through the ASMFC," said Chris Horton, fisheries program director for the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. "We're at a critical point in that management endeavor that requires further reductions in harvest, across the board, to ensure the flexible, state-based management model continues to be successful in managing striped bass for today and tomorrow's recreational anglers."
"Healthy, sustainable fisheries are essential to the environment and our industry. That's why we are urging the commission to reduce striped bass mortality by 18 percent," said Nicole Vasilaros, senior vice president of government and legal affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. "Recreational boaters and anglers are the nation's original conservationists - directly providing hundreds of millions of dollars to protect and rebuild fish stocks each year - and it should come as no surprise that we're united in support of a measure to ensure striped bass will thrive for generations to come."
"Striped bass are one of the most sought after sportfish along the Atlantic coast and its recreational fishery is a significant contributor to the east coast economy," said Mike Waine, Atlantic fisheries policy director for the American Sportfishing Association."As the striped bass population has decreased, we stand behind ASMFC to make the right decision to end overfishing and return the striped bass population to a healthy status. Bold action taken now will bolster a strong sportfishing economy and benefit striped bass anglers for generations to come."
"We commend the ASMFC for taking the appropriate steps to end overfishing of striped bass less than a year after that determination was made," said Richen Brame, Atlantic fisheries director for Coastal Conservation Association. "The Atlantic states cooperatively working in such a timely fashion will put striped bass on the road to recovery."
"Striped bass is one of the top fisheries from North Carolina all the way to Maine, and the cooperation of the states in this management system is imperative to ensuring the health of this public resource," said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. "The ASMFC's decision to reduce striped bass removals by 18 percent is the right thing to do to conserve this popular fishery for future generations."
The ASMFC is an Interstate Compact ratified by the states and approved by the U.S. Congress in 1942 to jointly manage their shared migratory fishery resources. ASMFC manages the striped bass stock from North Carolina to Maine. The fishery has been a success story for angler conservationists after it was brought back from the brink in the 1980s due to overfishing. While the stock is significantly healthier than it was in the 1980s, recent declining trends in the population are cause for concern. Therefore, reducing the amount of Atlantic striped bass removed by recreational and commercial fishermen is needed to rebuild the stock to a healthy status.
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