Written by Jen Finn
As many as 800 Massachusetts anglers have signed a petition seeking additional steps to conserve striped bass from overfishing. The petition calls for a 50 per cent reduction of both commercial and recreational efforts. As many as 30 Vineyarders signed the petition online according to Brad Burns, president of Stripers Forever, a Maine-based organization. The petition was delivered to Paul Diodati, the state Division of Marine Fisheries director, earlier this month.
In recent years both commercial and recreational fishermen on the Vineyard, as well as along the eastern seaboard, have noted a decline in the abundance of striped bass. Scientists are also reporting a decline, but the threshhold isn't yet low enough for fisheries managers to limit fishing. Those who signed the petition believe it is time to cut the fishing effort this year before it gets worse.
"The recreational catch of striped bass in Massachusetts has declined by nearly 90 per cent since 2006, yet the harvest levels have remained undiminished," said Dean Clark, of Shrewsbury and Cape Cod. Mr. Clark is a co-chair of the Massachusetts chapter of Stripers Forever.
"We are killing too many fish," added Mr. Clark. "All the scientists on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission say that within the next year or two we will be hitting triggers that were set that will demand reduction. Our concern is that we don't know how many fish are in the ocean. I believe the stock assessment can be off by as much as 50 per cent."
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