Manage to abundance

If you want to make your voice heard on the future management of striped bass, time is running out.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is considering what to include in an amendment to the management plan for striped bass. A so-called public information document is the next step in that process. Written public comment on a draft of that document is due by April 9. That’s just over two weeks away.

There are a lot of acronyms in the document and a lot to digest. The American Saltwater Guides Association is a good place to learn more about the issues involved. I am more than happy to help anyone who is considering submitting a public comment letter, even if I don’t agree with everything in it. My email is – I suggest being as specific as possible.

Things are changing. Striped bass are in trouble. While there are positive adjustments that should be considered (e.g. increased accountability for states that use conservation equivalency in lieu of coastwide regulations) the public information document, as currently drafted, is not a step in the right direction. Long story short: the fishery used to be managed for optimum yield. It was changed for the better and is now being managed for maximum sustainable yield. The takeaway from last week’s Massachusetts hearing on the public information document (which included more than 135 participants; of the roughly two dozen people who commented, only one person suggested anything but a more conservative approach to managing these fish) is that another change is needed. Given changes in the stock and the aesthetic of the fishery, the commission must change its approach yet again, in this case from managing for maximum sustainable yield to one of managing to abundance. The shift in mentality that change would entail is crucial to the proper management of these fish and the future of the fishery. My own public comment letter is pasted below for reference.