Overview of the Issue

Striped bass are one of the most important fisheries on the Atlantic coast. However, overfishing and poor environmental conditions led to the collapse of the fishery in the 1980s. Through the hardship and dedication of both commercial and recreational fishermen, the stock was rebuilt in 1995. In fact, striped bass are the most caught saltwater fish in terms of pounds by recreational anglers.

In 2015, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) reduced the striped bass harvest by 25% to stabilize a continuous decline in spawning stock biomass since 2003. Unfortunately, the 2015 management action did not hit the mark and the 2018 Atlantic striped bass benchmark assessment concluded the resource is overfished and experiencing overfishing. Female spawning stock biomass continues to decline and is estimated at 151 million pounds, below both the “threshold” of 202 million pounds and below the “target” of 252 million pounds. In response, ASMFC implemented an 18% reduction in 2020 harvest to end overfishing immediately and begin rebuilding the spawning stock biomass.

As a follow up action,  ASMFC initiated Amendment 7 to the Fishery Management Plan in August 2020 that will focus on the following management topics: (1) fishery goals and objectives; (2) stock rebuilding/timeframe; (3) management triggers; (4) biological reference points; (5) regional management (recreational measures, coastal and producer areas, regional reference points); (6) recreational discard mortality; (7) conservation equivalency; (8) recreational accountability; and (9) coastal commercial quota allocation.

Rebuilding the Iconic Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery Webinar

Atlantic striped bass is one of the most popular recreational fisheries along the Atlantic coast. Recently, the striped bass population has been declining and managers have restricted harvest to begin rebuilding this important fishery.

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What ASA is Doing

We supported the conservation-based decision in 2020 to address reductions in the Atlantic striped bass fishery and advocated for the cut to be shared equally between the recreational and commercial sectors.

As a follow up, ASA and other partners sent a letter to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources regarding the pending 2020 striped bass regulations and expressed concern over the lack of public input in the Department’s management process.

Starting in 2021, the Atlantic striped bass fishery will be required to use circle hooks when fishing with live or dead bait.  This circle hook rule change is a conservation measure and will be new for several states. Because the use of circle hooks is not the most intuitive, ASA partnered with Keep America Fishing and On The Water to develop education and outreach materials to help the states inform their anglers about how best to use circle hooks. Check out one of the videos here.

In March, 2021, Mike Waine participated in a Chesapeake Bay Foundation sponsored panel discussion about the top priorities for the next phase of striped bass management.  The discussion focused on both the Chesapeake and Coastal striped bass fishery and it provided a good opportunity to inform the public to get involved and participate in the management discussion.

In March, 2022, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMRC) released Draft Amendment 7 and asked for input from anglers on a variety of topics impacting how stripers are managed. Topics under discussion included: (1) management triggers; (2) recreational release mortality; (3) stock rebuilding plans; and (4) conservation equivalency. Since the proposal was extremely complex, Keep America Fishing launched an education/activation campaign urging East Coast anglers to “Get Involved in Striped Bass Management.” The campaign included an informational guide to help the sportfishing community understand the complex proposal, an online Action Alert targeting supporters on the East Coast and a series of state-specific email updates encouraging anglers to attend a webinar or in-person meeting.

What You Can Do

Read the guide.

Download the Advocacy Checklist and learn how you can get involved with the issues that affect our industry.

Sign up to receive updates from Keep America Fishing.

For more information, contact ASA Atlantic Fisheries Policy Director Mike Waine.