OK Striper Fisherman, if you care about the future of Striped Bass, time to get involved!!! ASMFC Striped Bass Management Amendment 7 is available.

Roccus7

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 22, 2018
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Midcoast Maine
On the afternoon of Wednesday, January 26, the ASMFC's Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board will meet.

The focus of the meeting will be reviewing, perhaps revising, and probably releasing for public comment the latest draft of Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass.

If you have any concerns about striped bass, it's time to read the draft and contact your state's representatives to express your thoughts.

Here's the draft:
http://www.asmfc.org/files/Meetings/2022WinterMeeting/AtlanticStripedBassBoard_Jan2022.pdf

And if you want a nice summary of this pile of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo, Charles Witek has a nice summary on his blog:
STRIPED BASS AMENDMENT 7--ITS PROMISE AND PERILS: PART I, MANAGEMENT TRIGGERS

I'll be spending the weekend taking all of this in and contacting my representatives. Here are some of my initial thoughts:
  1. DO NOT seek out a form letter that groups like RFA put out to send. Yes, seek these letters for ideas on what you want to write in letters to your representatives, but PUT THEM IN YOUR OWN WORDS. The regulators tend to lump 1000 RFA letters as a single response.

  2. ASMFC's Striped Bass Management Board, like just about any bureaucracy, LOVE TO DELAY. I strongly feel that any parts of the amendment that allow delays for action should be ELMINATED. They need to take immediate, positive action to keep the striped bass population at the target levels.

  3. NO KVETCHING!!!!! It's time to do something positive if you care about striped bass. Don't whine on line here or at other sites about what a group of losers ASMFC is, how it's a waste of time even trying to get them to do anything, there's no hope for striped bass, etc. CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES with your thoughts about the Amendment!!! After you do that, please do post about the points you made with the representatives.
 

Chinacat

Well-Known Angler
Dec 20, 2018
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Excellent advice Roccus!

NO KVETCHING!!!!! It's time to do something positive if you care about striped bass. Don't whine on line here or at other sites about what a group of losers ASMFC is, how it's a waste of time even trying to get them to do anything, there's no hope for striped bass, etc. CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES with your thoughts about the Amendment!!! After you do that, please do post about the points you made with the representatives.

Where I work we are encouraged to speak up with suggestions for improvements and offering input and not just "KVETCHING" :)
 
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Roccus7

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Dec 22, 2018
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Here's the final working draft I'm working on...

Ms. Megan Ware
Maine Division of Marine Resources
via Email

Dear Megan:

I hope you had a nice holiday break and are steeled for the upcoming Striped Bass Board meeting to discuss the proposed Amendment 7 draft on January 26th. Yes, I’m going to provide my perspective on the draft and hope that you’ll bear with me. I’ve decided to keep it short and to the point.

First, and this is not idle flattery, you and your boss, Pat Keliher, have accumulated significant “Street Cred”, from those of us that try to keep up and understand what ASMFC is all about, and are hoping to keep ASFMC from away the slide into irrelevance that many are predicting. The general consensus is that the two of you, along with the entire Maine contingent, are truly concerned about the coastal management of striped bass and other fish, unlike some other states’ contingents which are totally intent on their own parochial interests with little if any regard of the fishery. It’s nice to hear that affirmation of what I’ve been feeling about your work come from people from other states, and nobody is accusing Maine of being one of the states that do all they can to circumvent and delay restoration of the striped bass population. Please keep up the good work and take pride in the fact that your excellent work is being recognized.

For some perspective, I grew up on LI, NY and started fishing for striped bass almost 60 years ago. Upon my retirement and relocating to Maine 13 years ago, I focused my never-ending quest for my striped obsession along Maine’s Midcoast. During the summer I fish for stripers just about every day, as my VAL records, which Maine DMR has gotten for the past 3 seasons, will attest to. Bottom line, I am truly concerned with striped bass management, as striped bass is the ONLY inshore game in Maine now that recreational cod has essentially been removed from our “menu” because of its dire population crash. I will not idly sit by and see striped bass meet the same fate.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I have to believe that the key objective of Amendment 7 is the timely rebuilding of the striped bass SSB over the 200 million lb threshold showed in the 2018 stock assessment, a number that hasn’t be reached since 2013. That shortcoming is probably the greatest editorial comment regarding the “speed” and “diligence” of ASMFC’s response to overfishing efforts to date; patently demonstrating they are in no hurry to get anything done when conservation means difficult decisions.

So, what provisions should the Striped Bass Board ensure are included in final draft of Amendment 7? Here’s my “Hot List” of items the Amendment must clearly delineate and protect deviation from.

  • Set a TRIGGER and stick to it!! Want to adjust it to make it stringent by raising it, fine! Want to adjust it DOWN, NO!! This is ASMFC’s “Delay Playbook’s First Play”. The Board has got to stop, and the Amendment must clearly state that future reduction in targets is NOT allowed. Additionally, there should be NO allowance for delaying actions “to lest the dust settle” for further consideration, another favorite ploy for inaction.

  • Put an end to ASMFC’s the “Family Dinner”, 1 from Column A, 2 from Column B, approach to management. No more suboptions 1-10, subparts a-z, which can allow a daisy chain effect of DELAYING Management Action for years when multiple steps are involved. This delaying is the one management technique that the Striped Bass Board has excelled at over the past and it most STOP!! Once the population drops below a target, the board cannot have more than 1 year to enact measures that will address that shortcoming. The 1-year rule means that new measures will be in place for the season almost 2 years from the discovery, so this is ample time to make take steps to get things back on target!!

  • No more of the 50% justification for proposed Board actions. Would anyone on the Board bet a significant amount of their retirement nest egg on a 50% investment? I think not. That number has to be increased to at least 75%, although I’d love to see it in the 90% range.

  • Conservation Equivalencies MUST be justified by measuring the overall COASTAL IMPACT, not only the impact in the proposing’s state. This CE “illusion” has a become favorite fish grab by some states! If the coastal goal is an X% reduction, that state’s proposed CE must be shown to maintain that coastal reduction. If the proposed CE has the X% reduction in the state, but decreases the overall coast reduction below X%, the CE must be REJECTED!!

  • Keep consistency between commercial and recreational regulations! How can ASMFC sit back and allow some states to have a commercial minimum size LARGER than the maximum recreational size? It makes no sense having a slot that’s designed to protect large, fecund breeders only for recreational fishers, while some states allow the commercial sector to capitalize on the very fish the slot is trying to protect.

  • No intra-state or inter-state swapping of quotas. If ASMFC has apportioned separate river/bay and ocean, as well as commercial and recreational, quotas, a given state can’t start reallocating them within its own fisheries. Additionally, if a state chooses not to have a commercial allocation, ASMFC can not reallocate that state’s quota to other states’ commercial quotas. Maine has it right, they keep their commercial allocation and do not have a commercial fishery, nor reallocate this quota.

  • Do all you can to dissuade states from targeting and harvesting breeding fish on the spawning grounds. I know this is a “touchy” subject since they are state waters, but it has to stop. I love Maine’s approach to the Kennebec watershed on this topic, maybe there’s some leverage to help the states that have the lion’s share of spawning waters to get their “minds right” like Virginia recently has.
OK, I’m off the soapbox and realize that ASMFC’s Striped Bass Management Board has a very difficult job navigating the process of finalizing and getting the approval of a strong, actionable, and worthwhile Amendment 7. If Amendment 7 is a comprehensive, decisive document, there’s a high likelihood of significant economic, political, and environmental issues that will have to be faced. To restore this fishery, significant reductions in harvest, techniques, and seasons on both the commercial and recreational sides will be likely and mandatory.

Some actions could be easy and painless like NO GAFFING by anyone fishing for striped bass, both recreationally or commercially. Well, I guess “easy and painless” is relative; apparently one state’s Marine Biologist feels that it’s easy to safely gaff large striped bass without fatally wounding them. As someone who has gaffed hundreds of striped bass in my younger days, I can’t possibly agree with that comment nor fathom how that person could make it with a straight face. I’m still in shock, and that discussion has become the “Headline” for people citing ASFMC as being out of touch with fishery realities.

Any significant proposed actions will probably be painful to all. Unfortunately, the best measure of potential success of the overall actions will be ASMFC equally infuriating all states and stakeholders. That means that the primary stakeholder, the striped bass, has won over any particular group, and that the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board has come to that critical epiphany, dispelling the rumors of its demise and irrelevance.

Yours truly,