On Nov. 2 the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission will vote on a proposal to allow half the commercial striped bass quota that states fail to catch in one year to be added to the next year. CCA NC strongly disagrees with this plan to kill more striped bass. Striped bass fishing has declined greatly in recent years, and it is already costing jobs in the guiding and tackle communities where the value of striped bass far exceeds commercial landings.
We base our concerns on the following:
While recreational fishing effort coastwide has steadily increased, the number of striped bass encountered by recreational fishermen has decreased by over 50% just since 2006. The total N.C. recreational catch and releases in the Atlantic, literally a measure of the number of fish encountered by anglers, has decreased by well over 60% since 2004. Mycobacteria infects over half the striped bass in Chesapeake Bay (the cradle of the Atlantic striped bass population) and it is almost always fatal.
The National Marine Fisheries Service Winter Trawl Survey, conducted annually off N.C. in the winter, caught the fewest striped bass ever. North Carolina has not caught its commercial quota in several years while Massachusetts took far longer than usual to catch its quota this year.
While each of these facts by themselves are not compelling, when viewed together they present a strong case for concern about the health of the coastal population of striped bass. We should not be trying to increase harvest of this valuable resource; we should be expressing concern about the long-term health and viability of this important fish.
Our coastal communities are hurting enough and don't need any further degradation to the resource. Add to this argument that the majority of Striped Bass in North Carolina have been historically caught in destructive fishing gear such as gill nets and trawls that indiscriminately kill and injure other marine species and mammals and we become further distressed by this state's reluctance to change its fisheries management practices. We should be looking for ways to conserve striped bass, not kill more.
Click on this link at the bottom of the page to contact Governor Purdue asking to direct our state fishery director Dr. Louis Daniel to vote against this proposed quota roll-over at the upcoming meeting, and to direct him to look for ways to conserve striped bass for recreational angling rather than deplete them for commercial purposes.
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