Fishery managers are proposing to cut the striped bass quotas for commercial and recreational fishermen by as much as 25 percent because they fear bass are being caught faster than adult fish can replicate.
The adult bass population has been declining for seven years and the goal is to reverse the trend within three years.
Staff from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates fishing in state waters from Florida to Maine, and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries held a public hearing Tuesday night at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, Mass., to get public comment on options to reverse the decline, which has resulted in a 19 percent drop in landings since 2008.
Regulators aired proposals for the next year that included the 25 percent cut in landings and other plans that advocated a 17 percent cut, or that phased in a 21 percent reduction in 7 percent increments over three years, the Cape Cod Times reported.
Other measures to help achieve these goals included decreasing the daily limit for recreational fishermen to one fish and a variety of options to bump up the minimum size.
About 60 striped bass fishermen attended the hearing and they backed quick and effective action.
“There will be economic hardships, but this is not about an economic study, it’s about sustaining a fishery, to have it be productive,” said Charlie Gregory of Fall River, Mass., who fishes commercially from the beach and from a kayak.
Like many in the room, Gregory supported the 25 percent cut done in one year.
Striped bass are valuable to both commercial fishermen and recreational anglers. Overfishing and poor environmental conditions, particularly in crucial spawning and nursery areas in the Chesapeake Bay area, led to a steep decline in the species in the 1980s, when there was less than 10 million pounds of female striped bass available to spawn.
Strict regulations on commercial and recreational fishermen helped to bring bass back from historic population lows to historic high levels by 1995, when the species was declared fully recovered. It is now considered one of the great success stories of fisheries management.