Maryland Stresses Practical Striped Bass Conservation Efforts

May 14, 2019

State Leads Effort to Combat Rockfish Mortality

Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologists carefully tag adult striped bass during the annual spring spawning survey.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologists carefully tag adult striped bass during the annual spring spawning survey.

Following deliberations by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) on the status of the striped bass population along the Atlantic Coast, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources continued its ongoing leadership in striped bass conservation efforts.

At the ASMFC meeting, Maryland again addressed the most pressing problem facing the Chesapeake Bay’s striper population — the significant volume of “dead discards” in the recreational fishery, where many striped bass are caught and released, but do not survive when they are returned to the water. Maryland emphasized that the most recent science and data shows that any measures that do not address this problem directly will not result in conservation.

In 2015, ASMFC increased the minimum size for “keeper” fish, a well-meaning attempt to protect striped bass population that instead was counterproductive, leading to increased mortality. Every fish that is hooked, removed from the water and handled is at risk of dying when placed back in the water. Following the size change, the number of dead discards have actually increased as anglers catch and release fish to find keepers, thus increasing the number of fish that were handled.

In 2018, Governor Hogan and Maryland Department of Natural Resources raised concerns about this problem with ASMFC. This resulted in the adoption of a decreased minimum size from 20 to 19 inches. In addition, Maryland took unilateral action to require the use of circle hooks when chumming and live lining (the methods by which most recreational anglers catch striped bass.) Circle hooks are an effective conservation measure because they significantly reduce “gut hooking” that leads to discard mortality. The department also launched and is continuing to expand an educational outreach program to assure compliance with these regulations.

Maryland is hopeful that all other East Coast states will join with us to address this important conservation issue. In the meantime, the department is encouraging all anglers to do their part by implementing conservation measures, including handling fish more carefully and lessening the number of fish they catch and later release. Advice and tips can be found on the department’s website.

Maryland will continue to make conservation decisions based on the best available science for the long-term future of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay. Staff will continue working with stakeholders on practical solutions to preserve, protect and restore our striped bass populations.


4 Responses to Maryland Stresses Practical Striped Bass Conservation Efforts

  1. Gone Fishin' on May 14, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Maryland is putting forth LIES!

    In stating that the biggest threat to the population of Striped Bass is throw-back fatality, the narrative is instantly defined as “propaganda” – intending to blind people of the obvious truth!


    Just TRY to realize the VAST number of fish taken in huge modern nets, hauled in by the tons!

    Next look at the food source (Menhaden) also constantly taken near the mouth of the Chesapeake – by encircling entire schools with trawler nets, (miles in length) aimed and controlled from aircraft, targeted for use by pet foods and other processing plants.

    Now look back at the comparatively few anglers and charter boat fishermen, utilizing a season granted them lasting a few specified months in the Spring/Fall – following strict regulations of number, size, area, and times of day.

    If you want to claim that the rejected fish being discarded by them, outweigh the mega-tons netted and sold off for revenue under the watchful eye of the state AND the DNR – Santa is watching you!

    Either you make the Striper a “sport fish” or say goodbye. The state has repeatedly regulated it through moratorium, restriction, and other creative experiments, ALL done without seeing ANY lasting success. It is always too little, too late.

    By the time they even acknowledge a problem, the status is past the point of reacting “sanely” with any reasonable attempt to fix it.

    Comparing the Bay, EVEN to the stock levels of the 1960’s – the Bay is dead. AND It isn’t pollution, run off, or even magic. It is realized with ease by anyone with some common sense.

    Some changes are actually “natural”, like how rain will reduce the salinity. There has been proof of periodic algae-produced “blooms” killing fish by thousands during certain Summer months. But MOST of the loss we are talking about now can be attributed to the massive over-fishing called “Taking without giving”.

    Where are the trout (Weak Fish)? The Blow-Toads? The Perch? The Spot? The Spanish Mackerel? The Drum?
    The Herring? The Bluefish? And all the many other species that use to be supported to grow quite large, but now are either gone altogether from the Bay – or only found living as smaller fish.

    Better start advertising catching and eating the Snakehead! Even though they don’t populate in the deep – Snakeheads thrive hugely in the shallow, less salty waters – where the Catfish dwell. And it is tasty meat once cleaned and served.

    But the Striped Bass is not likely to survive the commercial rape of the Bay, being sold off each year in the name of resource management.

    Any questions? Yeah, me too.

    • Cap'n Obvious on May 14, 2019 at 3:46 pm

      Well said.

    • Heff on May 14, 2019 at 4:21 pm

      Yeah!!! What he said. No way in the heck that hook and line is destroying the population…total BS.

    • Tuna2017 on May 15, 2019 at 2:29 pm

      Finally, there are people that understand the root cause of the striper decline. Well written. The recreational anglers have no impact on the striper decline. Why not keep a closer eye on the commercial fisherman.