ALEXANDRIA, Va.— Amid warnings that slashing the striped bass catch by a third next year could devastate Chesapeake Bay commercial fishermen, Atlantic states regulators agreed Tuesday to consider reducing the catch more gradually over three years.
Members of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission made so many other changes to a proposal for protecting Maryland's state fish from a troubling decline that they could not finish reviewing it until Wednesday — and likely put off taking final action by three months, until fall.
The interstate commission had agreed to act after scientists warned that the highly prized migratory fish had slipped in the past several years to the verge of being overfished. The group agreed that fishing pressure needed to be reduced so more spawning females could survive and rebuild the population
Striped bass, also known locally as rockfish, roam from North Carolina to New England, but the bay is a major spawning and nursery ground. They are a valuable commercial catch, worth about $7 million annually in Maryland, but also much sought by thousands of sport fishermen in the bay and along the coast.