Update on Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation from NE and NY BHA

Earlier this year the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers New York and New England Chapters submitted comments on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Public Information Document for Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. Many of our members echoed those comments through BHA’s Action Alert, and we thank you for your advocacy. It was a successful effort! 

Our comments mark the first time that BHA stepped in to the arena of Atlantic Striped Bass management, and the comments from our members outnumbered those sent by many other organizations who have been involved with Atlantic Striped Bass issues for years.  Between our members and other stakeholders the ASMFC received over 3,000 comments on the Amendment 7 PID, and our comments had a real impact on the future management of the Atlantic Striped Bass fishery. 

Our comments helped to motivate members of the ASMFC’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board to retain the current goals and objectives of the management plan, which call for an abundant and conservatively managed Atlantic Striped Bass population, and also to retain historical spawning stock biomass and fishing mortality targets. 

Our comments also helped motivate the Management Board to retain the 10-year timeline for rebuilding an overfished stock, and to seek ways to rein in abuse of “conservation equivalency,” which allows states to adopt management measures that are different and, unfortunately, often less effective than the coast-wide measures adopted by the ASMFC. 

It was a significant achievement, but important work remains. 

In early August the ASMFC Atlantic Striped Bass Technical Committee, which is tasked with drafting the specific language for Amendment 7, sought guidance from the Management Board on several of the issues that will be included in the new plan. One of those issues will be the “management triggers” that determine when action must be taken to protect the Atlantic Striped Bass stock.  Some of the proposals that will be considered could allow the Management Board to delay protective action for years, if not indefinitely, if the stock becomes overfished or experiences overfishing. If this is not addressed in the drafting of Amendment 7 we will need to make it clear to the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board that delays in protective action are unacceptable. 

In October the Management Board is expected to approve a draft version of Amendment 7 and release it for public comment.  We will make sure you know when that happens, because when it does it will be our last chance to weigh in on the plan that will manage the Atlantic Striped Bass fishery for the foreseeable future. We have already made some real progress, and in a few months it will be time to motivate the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board to adopt a new plan that will rebuild and protect an abundant and sustainable Atlantic Striped Bass fishery for generations to come. 

We proved that our voices make a difference last April. Let’s do it again in October! 

About Michael Woods

hunter, angler from Rhode Island. New England BHA Co-Chair