Division of Fish & Wildlife to hold Feb. 23 public hearing on options to reduce recreational striped bass harvest
All Atlantic states required to reduce harvest by 25 percent
DOVER (Feb. 12, 2015) – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23 on Delaware’s proposed options to reduce the recreational striped bass harvest by 25 percent as required by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). The hearing will be held in DNREC’s auditorium in the Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901.
Delaware must comply with the ASMFC’s changes to the Atlantic Striped Bass Fisheries Management Plan as approved in October 2014. While the striped bass stock is not currently overfished, the ASFMC requires a 25 percent reduction in fishing mortality in 2015 to avoid overfishing the declining spawning stock in the coming years.
The commercial striped bass weight quota for 2015 has automatically been reduced by the required 25 percent in accordance with established regulation procedure. Reduction of the recreational harvest by 25 percent can be achieved through various options consisting of the different size, possession and season limit combinations presented in the table below.
Recreational anglers may submit their preference for one of these options, either at the hearing or in writing. Options B5 through B9 have been approved by the ASMFC for use by all states. Option CE1 was developed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife to allow Delaware to continue its summer slot striped bass fishery as part of the year round recreational fishery. ASMFC has agreed that option CE1 will reduce Delaware’s recreational striped bass harvest by at least 25 percent.
The ASMFC recently rejected Delaware’s appeal of the changes to the management plan, which was filed in December 2014. The appeal stated that the revised plan did not sufficiently evaluate the socioeconomic impacts of the 25 percent harvest reduction and did not address whether the economic losses resulting from the required harvest reductions would be offset by economic increases in the future. The revised ASMFC management plan also failed to address the continued disproportional and inequitable low allocation of commercial striped bass quota to Delaware relative to other states. While the coastal striped bass population has declined from its unprecedented, historically high level in the mid-2000s, Delaware disagreed that the 25 percent reduction was needed to restore a population that is not overfished.
The hearing record on the proposed striped bass regulation changes opened on Feb. 1, 2015, and will remain open at least 15 days after the public hearing. Individuals may submit written comments regarding the proposed regulation via email to Lisa.Vest@state.de.us, or addressed to DNREC Hearing Officer Lisa Vest, Office of the Secretary, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901.
For more information on the striped bass public hearing or Delaware’s appeal, call the Fisheries Section at 302-739-9914 or visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Fisheries.