By Timothy B. Wheeler, Bay Journal News Service
The public has four chances in the latter half of May to learn about and comment on the new restriction placed on fishing for striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic coast.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates near-shore fishing for migratory fish species, decided May 2 to impose a 31-inch maximum on the size striped bass that anglers may keep if they hook one. The commission acted after being informed that coastwide recreational harvest and mortality of striped bass had roughly doubled in 2022 over the previous year, undermining prospects for rebuilding the overfished fish population by its 2029 deadline.
The panel has begun considering adopting various new restrictions on recreational and possibly commercial fishing for 2024, but commission members felt emergency action was needed now to limit losses of spawning-size fish. The 31-inch maximum size limit was to take effect immediately but no later than July 2. It lasts 180 days, with the commission reserving the option to extend it for another 180 days. Maryland, Virginia and Potomac River fisheries managers have said they will comply with the mandate as soon as possible.
Because the commission acted so suddenly, it did not go through its normal process of notifying the public and seeking feedback before making a final decision. It now plans to hold virtual public hearings on the following dates and times so that public feedback can be considered in future decision making:
• Wednesday, May 17, 5-7 pm
• Monday, May 22, 6-8 pm
• Tuesday, May 23, 5-7 pm
• Wednesday, May 31, 6-8 pm
Hearings will be held via GoToWebinar, accessible by computer, tablet or smartphone. If new to GoToWebinar, download the software by clicking here or via the App store under GoToWebinar. Registration in advance is recommended. To do so, click here. To read the commission’s notice, go here.