Striped bass is one of the most important commercially fished breeds in the Atlantic and is ranked the #1 recreational sportfish along the Atlantic coast. If you have an Atlantic permit for commercial fishing, there is news you need to be aware of in terms of emergency measures to protect striped bass, also referred to as rockfish. During the May 2023 meeting, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission responded to the large number of striped bass fished in 2022 during the recreational harvest. As a result, an emergency measure was put in place in an effort to protect the population for many years to come. Keep reading to find out what you need to know as an Atlantic waters commercial fisherman.
Why is There an Emergency Measure?
It was determined that the number of striped bass caught for recreational purposes during 2022 was double that of the number fished in 2021. With a target to rebuild the current stock by 2029, these numbers caused too large of a dent in the population. The emergency measure is in place to protect the larger members of the species for respawning purposes. The measure is in place until October 28, 2023. However, as that date approaches, the emergency measure may be extended, depending on the results up to that point. If you fish for striped bass, it’s imperative that you stay apprised of the situation so you can act accordingly when you take your fishing boat out on the water.
What are the Guidelines of the Emergency Measure?
Until October 28, 2023, the maximum size of striped bass that can be kept is 31 inches. This is a coastwide regulation, regardless of state. Anything larger must be returned to the waters. Previous size guidelines of 28-35 inches are not in effect at the present time and all jurisdictions are required to follow these regulations until the emergency measure expires. Failure to adhere to these rules may result in fines and other penalties, so it’s best to pay close attention to your catch so you are within the parameters of legal catches.
Rebuilding Striped Bass Populations
The goal of the emergency measure is to rebuild the striped bass population. An abundance of fish means both commercial and recreational fishers can enjoy the fruits of their labor by taking home as much or as little as they’d like. Because of the large blue catfish population and poor spawns among striped bass, this is an ongoing issue that is likely to be readdressed at future meetings of the Atlantic States Marines Fisheries Commission and regulations may change or stay in place, depending on the results of the current efforts to protect striped bass.
Understanding emergency measures and temporary fishing regulations can be tricky and perhaps even overwhelming for those with an Atlantic permit. If that applies to you, contact the Commercial Fishing Permits Center today with all of your questions and concerns. We’re here to help you stay on top of the guidelines you must follow on the water.