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.