On Tuesday, August 27, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted unanimously to enact emergency regulations for the striped bass fishery.
Such emergency measures will establish a bag limit of one fish per angler per day, with a maximum size limit of 36 inches. The emergency measures also establish a maximum gill net size of 9 inches in the coastal fishery and 7 inches in the Chesapeake Bay fishery, and so lower overall mortality of striped bass and protect the large breeding fish that are critical to the health and future of the population.
“Virginia took the first action on striped bass in the spring and today’s steps continue our commitment to restore this fishery to healthy levels. The recent stock assessment shows that immediate action is needed to slow the decline and restore this fishery to sustainable levels,” Virginia Marine Resources Commissioner Steven G. Bowman said. “I am proud of the ongoing leadership by the Commission. Restoring this fishery to its full potential will require further actions for the commercial and recreational fisheries in the coming months.”
This emergency action is both warranted and appreciated because the striped bass stock is overfished, and overfishing is occurring. Both conditions mean striped bass are in trouble and action needs to be taken.
“Poor management of striped bass over the past decade has caused significant economic harm to Virginians who depend on healthy fisheries for their livelihoods and has reduced opportunities for recreational anglers. I applaud the strong leadership shown today by the Marine Resources Commission and Commissioner Bowman on striped bass conservation and their commitment to restoring this iconic fishery,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler, “We need other states to follow our example and help rebuild the striped bass population starting immediately. Delay is unacceptable and the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission must take decisive action that will ensure restoration of this fishery up and down the coast.”
“The Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s leadership is great news for striped bass and is welcome news for those of us who hope to see our sons and daughters have a chance to catch this storied fish,” said the Marine Fish Conservation Network’s Executive Director, Robert C. Vandermark. “Leadership like this should be emulated immediately by the other states within the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The ASMFC itself should also act as quickly as possible to implement plans to restore striped bass to sustainable levels.”
Editors note, this article also appears on Fissues.org