NEWBURYPORT — It’s the most-prized gamefish in local waters, and according to a newly released survey, it’s also in dramatic decline — again.

Striped bass, a hard-fighting and tasty fish that is highly sought by fishermen, is about to undergo another period of strict protection meant to help bolster its sagging numbers. And as a result, fishermen in local waters will only be able to keep half as many fish as in previous years.

Stripers, as they are often called, spawn in Chesapeake Bay and the Hudson River, then as summer approaches, they make their way northward along the coast in their hunt for prey. They usually arrive off Plum Island and Salisbury Beach in mid-May. The shores of Plum Island and the Merrimack River become crowded with fishermen.

But along the East Coast last year, the catch was smaller than in previous years, according to the advocacy group Stripers Forever. Also, the fish that were caught were smaller in size.

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