Chesapeake Bay fishermen will be allowed fewer rockfish next season. The Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board, part of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission which oversees fishing levels on the Bay, is cutting the allowed rockfish (also called striped bass) catch number by 20.5% from the 2012 level.
It could have been worse; coastal states are cut by 25% from the 2013 number. The board figures Chesapeake Bay fishermen have already been hit with a 14% cut in 2014 due to state management programs.
The new levels go into effect at the start of the 2015 fishing season.
“The Board struck an important balance in taking immediate action to reduce fishing mortality back to the target while also recognizing the unique characteristics of the Chesapeake Bay fisheries, says Board Chair Douglas Grout of New Hampshire. “The action will assure a more rapid increase in the abundance of spawning fish which has been declining in recent years.”
The board believes that even thought rockfish are not overfished yet, it is heading in that direction.The number of female, spawning age striped bass has dropped.
Coastal fishermen, along Maryland’s shore and Delaware, will be limited to one rockfish 28 inches
long or larger. States can substitute that rule with their own as long as the result is the same — a 25% reduction in harvest.
Virginia and Maryland are to submit a report to the board on how they plan to reach the 20.5% reduction in recreational fishing in the Chesapeake Bay. Currently in the Bay, the catch limit is two rockfish, one must be at least 20-inches long and the other must be longer than 28 inches.
For more information, here’s the official announcement.