This is very good news!
OFFSHORE MARINE WATERS TO REMAIN CLOSED TO STRIPED BASS FISHING
After carefully examining a proposal to re-open offshore marine waters in the Atlantic Ocean for striped bass fishing, NOAA has announced it will maintain the 1990 federal closure. NOAA closed marine areas between three and 200 miles offshore to recreational and commercial striped bass fisheries to complement a rebuilding plan instituted in 1981 by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The rebuilding plan, supported by the federal closure, was successful and scientists declared striped bass populations fully rebuilt in 1995. In April 2003, the Commission asked NOAA to evaluate available scientific information to determine if the federal ban should be lifted.
After a 2005 stock assessment confirmed that the species is at a sustainable population size and not being over-harvested, NOAA issued an options paper in April 2006 outlining potential management strategies to allow striped bass fishing to resume in offshore waters. These strategies included a range of options, from re-opening the fisheries with minimum size and catch limits, to maintaining the federal ban.
NOAAâ€™s proposal did not call for an increase in the annual catch quota for striped bass, established by the Commission to maintain the population size. Even though the annual cap on catches would have remained the same, regardless of whether the fish were caught in
nearshore or offshore waters, the majority of those who commented believed that re-opening offshore fisheries would result in higher catches.
NOAA based the decision on a review of trends in the fishery and the speciesâ€™ population. The data show that there has been an increase in fishing mortality of striped bass and a decrease in female spawners since the Commission requested a reevaluation of the federal ban. Although the stock as a whole is not being over-harvested, any increased fishing pressure would likely result in over fishing before NOAA and the Commission could respond with a new regulation. Since these issues would undermine the long-term conservation of Atlantic striped bass, the agency has determined that offshore waters should remain closed at this time.
â€œThe recovery of the striped bass stock is one of the most important fishery success stories of our time, but it was a team effort,â€ said Dr. Bill Hogarth, NOAA Fisheries Service Director. â€œThe Atlantic coastal states, Federal partners and the fishing community shared in the rebuilding
process and now in maintaining a healthy, viable fishery. NOAA will continue to work with the Atlantic coastal states and user groups to reverse the current fishing mortality and female spawning stock trends. â€œ
NOAA Fisheries: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov