The Politics of Striped Bass

striped_bass

With just 5 days left to publicly let your voice be heard with regards to the ASMFC management of Striped Bass I find myself trying not to get caught up in the passion of a debate. Longstanding tension between recreational and commercial fishermen as they compete for the same fish. Pool your friends for their opinion. You will get a 100 different ideas on what option is best. You will also get a lengthy history  of why they support it, based on their OWN experience.

Striped bass stocks collapsed in the 1980s, but a series of regulations, including a harvest ban from 1985 to 1989, and cleaning up the rivers in which they breed, helped produce a comeback. The fishery was declared rebuilt in 1995.

I am late to this game as I don’t have the extended history of fishing striped bass. In me lies the passion for the fish. So without getting too political I’d like to address a few things I think are important to someone like myself, the mindful angler. I say this because I don’t keep most of what I catch. My passion is with the sport of the pursuit and take care to always release a fish as best I can. But I also think you have the right to keep what is legally yours daily. That is part of what is wonderful about living in this country… we have the right to do that.

Should you be mindful of the fish and it’s management? Absolutely. The most continuous monologue I hear is.. nothing works, the system doesn’t work, the management does not work, the politicians don’t fish, there is no problem, I used to care I don’t anymore. Which is really detrimental coming from people who have been in the sport long enough to have taken a bunch of fish over the years but do not see fit to want to help the next generation of anglers have that same experience.

I understand some of you believe that this might just be a few “off” years or that the decline in striped bass is a natural cycle that could help other species, such as weakfish and bluefish, competing in the same ecosystem. If it is why continue to go hard on them? I understand the structure has changed – Hurricane Sandy, Beach Replenishment, the removal of jetties all should be factored in to the equation.  Some people believe the fish may just be farther offshore. But the science is spawning stock biomass is decreasing! The recent stock assessment found a spawning stock biomass of 128 million pounds, only 1 million pounds higher than the threshold for problems. Marine biologists would like it to be at 159 million pounds. It’s a tinder box of frustration and finger-pointing as people fractured into groups with reasons why the numbers are down grow.

Policing people posting legal reports on the internet is not helping the fish. It turns people off to your agenda. Be knowledgeable and state your case. With that I walk delicately regarding my position on the issue publicly. The internet debates are not getting reviewed the public comments are. So make it count.

I’d really like to see future generations be able to experience fishing for this beloved fish. I know it changed my life. There was a time people talked about weakfish and how abundant they were. It was like listening to ghost stories. .. but that’s another fish for another day.

With all that you have a voice…I encourage you to go to  the ASMFC site and read up

http://www.asmfc.org/species/atlantic-striped-bass

PLEASE be sure to also state your comment on the Commercial Transfer.

ASMFC is  reviewing all public comment for consideration of final approval of the options and addendum at their October meetings. Any changes to the commercial and recreational harvest of striped bass will most likely start in 2015.  The public is encouraged to submit comments regarding this document at any time during the addendum process. The final date comments will be accepted is 5pm on September 30, 2014.  Comments may be submitted by mail, email, or fax. If you have any questions or would like to submit comment, please use the contact information below.

Mike Waine (mwaine@asmfc.org)

Fishery Management Plan Coordinator

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Subject: Draft Addendum IV)

 1050 North Highland Street Suite 200A-N Phone: (703) 842-0740

 Arlington, VA 22201 Fax: (703) 842-0741

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