Striped Bass Addendum II to Amendment 7: ASMFC Winter Meeting Recap

Late last year, ASMFC’s Striped Bass Board approved the development of Addendum II , which was intended to “build upon the 2023 emergency action by considering management measures intended to reduce fishing mortality to the target level in 2024”. Last November, BHA published our priorities for inclusion in the Addendum, and every Chapter from Maine to North Carolina collaborated to submit written testimony to ASMFC supporting our priorities.

Read BHA’s Comments on Addendum II

In addition to the Chapter comments, hundreds of members and supporters weighed in through BHA’s Action Alert, and thousands more provided public comments supporting the inclusion of conservation-minded options.

At ASMFC’s Winter Meeting, the Striped Bass Board convened to finalize Addendum II and implement the measures that were approved for inclusion. In this piece we’ll be breaking down the happenings and results of the meeting issue-by-issue, vote-by-vote. If that’s more detail than you’re interested here are a couple simple takeaways:

Addendum II should come close to achieving the goal of reducing fishing mortality to target level in 2024, at least according to ASMFC’s projections. While the Board did leave some options on the table that would have further reduced fishing mortality and increased the odds of recovery by 2029, like further reducing the Commercial fishery’s quota, most of the options included were near or exceeded the projected 14.5% reduction need.

Addendum II decisively rejected ‘mode splits’ in both the Ocean and Chesapeake Bay recreational fisheries. At several points throughout the draft Addendum ‘mode splits’, or different regulations for recreational anglers vs. for-hire recreational vessels, were proposed. Not only did none of these proposals make it into the approved document, but many were brought up in motions, discussed, and defeated by votes.

Addendum II will likely be revisited soon, potentially as soon as late 2024. When it was initiated, the management action’s focus had more to do with addressing an unanticipated increase in fishing mortality then it did with implementing measures likely to achieve the 2029 rebuilding deadline required by Amendment 7. ASMFC is expected to finalize a stock assessment in October, which will inform managers if, and to what extent, additional reductions in fishing mortality are required to achieve their stock rebuilding goals.

 

With that out of the way, here’s our breakdown of motions and votes from the Striped Bass Board’s meeting on Addendum II:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3.1.1 Ocean Recreational Fishery Options

BHA Priority for Inclusion: Option B

Motion:                        Include Option B – Motion by Armstrong (MA), Abbott (NH)

Motion to Substitute:   Substitute Option C – Motion by Davis (CT), Hasbrouk (NY)

Motion Fails, 7 For / 9 Against

For - RI, CT, NY, NJ, PRFC, MD, DE

Against - NH, ME, VA, DC, NC, PA, NOAA, USFWS, MA

Final Motion:                Move to approve in Section 3.1.1 Ocean Recreational Fishery Option B: 1 fish at 28” to 31” with 2022 seasons for all modes

Motion Passes, 14 For / 2 Against

For – NH, ME, DE, MD, PRFC, VA, DC, NC, NOAA, USFWS, CT, PA, MA, RI

Against – NY, NJ

Option B essentially continues the ocean recreational slot limit of 28” to 31” first implemented by Emergency Action last year. Of the available choices Option B was the most conservative, with a projected reduction in fishing mortality of 14.1% compared to the Amendment 7 slot limit. Also of note, the Board discussed and ultimately declined to include mode splits in the ocean recreational fishery, which could have been facilitated through Option C.

 

3.1.2 Chesapeake Bay Recreational Fishery Options

BHA Priority for Inclusion:        Option B1

Motion:                        Approve Option C2 – Motion by Luisi (MD), Braun (PRFC)

Motion to Substitute:   Substitute Option B2 – Motion by Sikorski (MD), Geer (VA)

Motion Passes, 13 For / 3 Against

For – RI, MA, CT, NY, USFWS, NOAA, PA, NC, VA, DC, DE, ME, NH

Against NJ, PRFC, MD

Motion to Substitute:   Sub Option C2 for 2024, B2  for 2025 – Motion by Luisi (MD), Braun (PRFC)

Motion Fails, 4 For / 12 Against

For – MD, PRFC, VA, NJ

Against - RI, MA, CT, NY, USFWS, NOAA, PA, NC, DC, DE, ME, NH

Motion to Substitute:   Sub Option C1 for 2024, B2  for 2025 – Motion by Luisi (MD), Davis (CT)

Motion Fails, 6 For / 9 Against / 1 Abstain

For – RI, CT, NY, NJ, MD, DE

Against – NH, ME, PRFC, VA, DC, NC, PA, NOAA, MA

Abstain – USFWS

Final Motion:                Motion to approve in Section 3.1.2 Chesapeake Bay Recreational Fishery Option B2: 19”-24” slot, 1 fish for all modes, 2022 seasons.

Motion Passes, 14 For / 2 Against

For – NH, ME, DE, PRFC, VA, DC, NH, PA, NC, NOAA, NY, CT, MA, RI

 Against – MD, NJ

Similar to the ocean recreational fishery options, the Board discussed several different ways that mode splits could have been facilitated for the Chesapeake Bay recreational fishery, and ultimately declined to include any of them. At one point, the Board even declined to entertain a temporary mode split that was projected to achieve a greater fishing mortality reduction than the option that would have been substituted, which sent a clear message to the for-hire representatives who sought enhanced size limits compared to the ‘private’ recreational fishery. While the Board could have achieved a greater mortality reduction by including Option B1, the inclusion of B2 is far better than the status-quo and meets the projected 14.5% fishery-wide mortality reduction needed to hit F-target in 2024.

 

3.1.4 Recreational Filleting Allowance Requirements

BHA Priority for Inclusion: Option B

Motion:                        Include Option B – Motion by Armstrong (MA), Patterson (NH)

Motion to Amend:        Remove “skin to be left intact” – Motion by Gary (NY), Cimino (NJ)

Motion Passes, 12 For / 2 Against / 2 Abstain

For – DE, MD, PRFC, VA, DC, NC, PA, NJ, NY, CT, MA, RI

Against – ME, NH

Abstain – USFWS, NOAA

Final Motion:                Move to approve in Section 3.1.4 Recreational Filleting Allowance Requirements Option B: For states that authorize at-sea/shore-side filleting of striped bass, establish minimum requirements, including requirements for racks to be retained and possession to be limited to no more than two fillets per legal fish.

Motion Passes, 14 For / 2 Abstain

For – NH, ME, DE, MD, PRFC, VA, DC, NC, PA, NJ, NY, CT, MA, RI

Abstain – USFWS, NOAA

 

3.2.1 Commercial Quota Reduction Options

BHA Priority for Inclusion: Option B, 14.5% Reduction

Motion:                        Include Option B, 14% Reduction – Motion by Armstrong (MA), Patterson (NH)

Motion to Substitute:   Option A – Motion by Clark (DE), Hasbrouk (NY)

Motion Fails, 3 For / 13 Against

For – DE, VA, NY

Against – NH, ME, MD, PRFC, DC, NC, PA, NOAA, USFWS, NJ, CT, MA, RI

Motion to Amend:        Replace with 7% Reduction – Motion by Luisi (MD), Kaelin (NJ)

Motion Passes, 8 For / 6 Against / 2 Abstain

For – RI, MA, NY, NJ, VA, PRFC, MD, DE

Against – NH, ME, DC, NC, PA, CT

Abstain – USFWS, NOAA

Final Motion:                Move to approve in Section 3.2.1 Commercial Quota Reduction Option B: 7% reduction from ocean and Chesapeake Bay 2022 quotas with 2022 size limits.

Motion Passes, 13 For / 1 Against / 2 Abstain

For – NH, ME, DE, MD, PRFC, VA, DC, PA, NJ, NY, CT, MA, RI

Against – NC

Abstain – USFWS, NOAA

In one of the more disappointing decisions of the meeting, the Board opted to impose a 7% reduction to the Commercial quota, which may not actually be realized as a reduction at all in 2024 and beyond because landings almost never actually match the full quota. For example, in 2022 both ocean and bay commercial landings were ~500,000 lbs short of their respective quotas, leaving ~1,000,000 lbs or ~18% of the commercial fishery-wide quota unfilled. In spite of many commenters urging the Board to spread the burden of recovering the fishery evenly across its sectors, ultimately the commercial sector does not appear as though it will be taking reductions to the same magnitude that recreational anglers will be moving forward.

 

3.3 Response to Stock Assessment Updates

BHA Priority for Inclusion: Option B

Final Motion:                Move to approve in Section 3.3 Response to Stock Assessment Option B: Board could respond via Board action to change management measures by voting to pass a motion at a Board meeting. - Motion by Davis (CT), Borden (RI)

Motion Fails, 11 For / 5 Against

For – RI, MA, CT, NY, USFWS, NOAA, PA, NC, DE, ME, NH

Against – MD, PRFC, VA, DC, NJ

While it was not explicitly included the final motion, both Draft Addendum II and the discussion leading up to the motion explain that Option B does not necessarily give the Board carte-blanche to change measures moving forward, and with no notice or public input. According to Draft Addendum II, Option B would allow the Board to respond ‘if an upcoming stock assessment prior to the rebuilding deadline, currently 2029, indicates the stock is not projected to rebuild by 2029 with a probability greater than or equal to 50%’. It also states that ‘when the 2024 stock assessment update is complete in October 2024, the Board could change management measures at the October 2024 meeting or a meeting shortly thereafter, which would enable new measures to be implemented for at least part of the 2025 season’. Given that fisheries managers recently reported another (fifth consecutive) year of failed juvenile recruitment has occurred in the Chesapeake Bay, which is home to the fishery’s most productive breeding tributaries.

 

Implementation Schedule

Motion:                        Implement Addendum II by May 1, 2024 - Motion by Armstrong (MA), Borden (RI)

Motion to Amend:        Implement recreational regulations by May 1, 2024 and commercial measures in 3.2.1 effective January 1, 2025 – Motion by Geer (VA), Clark (DE)

Motion Fails, 7 For / 7 Against / 2 Abstain

For – NH, ME, DE, MD, PRFC, VA, NC

Against – DC, PA, NJ, NY, CT, MA, RI

Abstain – USFWS, NOAA

Final Motion:                Move to approve the following compliance schedule: States must submit implementation plans by March 1, 2024. The Board will review and consider approving implementations in March 2024. States must implement regulations by May 1, 2024

Motion Passes, 10 For / 4 Against / 2 Abstain

For – NH, ME, DC, NC, PA, NJ, NY, CT, MA, RI

Against – DE, MD, VA, PRFC

Abstain – USFWS, NOAA

 

Approval of Addendum II

Motion:                        Move to approve Addendum II to Amendment 7 to the Atlantic Striped Bass FMP, as amended today. – Motion by Davis (CT), Kane (MA)

Motion Passes, 12 For / 4 Against

For – RI, MA, CT, NY, NJ, USFWS, NOAA, PA, NC, DC, ME, NH

Against – DE, MD, PRFC, VA

About Christopher Borgatti

BHA Eastern Policy & Conservation Manager

See other posts related to New England BHA New York news