Tighter conservation measures for striped bass are on the table for discussion this month as fisheries managers and fishermen continue to grapple with a worrisome decline in the popular saltwater sport fish.
A weeklong series of public hearings in Massachusetts begins today on Nantucket on a plan to lower catch limits for recreational and commercial fishermen next year. Similar hearings will be held in coastal states from Maine to North Carolina.
In early August the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s striped bass management board adopted a new set of conservation goals for the coming year, called draft amendment IV.
Striped bass populations are currently at a low ebb. Scientists who trap juvenile fish in the Chesapeake every year to measure their breeding success found that in 2012 the population hit a record low. In 2013 the young of the year index, as the measurement is called, was higher than 2012 but still extremely low when compared with previous years. Warming weather conditions are believed to be a factor but there are many other issues and competing interests. There is concern about the decline in bait fish that adult striped bass feed on and debate over whether more protection is needed for the larger breeding females.
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