Striped Bass are overfished

Hello Fishermen and Friends!

As the sun gets higher and fishing is starting to get on all of our minds we wanted to pass on a bit of a scary discovery, but one that many saw coming. At the meeting in early February of the Striped Bass Management Board it was announced that Striped Bass are officially being overfished and that the stock is declining and if the regulations are not changed, that the decline is expected to continue.

The findings came from the 2018 Benchmark Striped Bass Stock Assessmentfrom which the management board based its official statement. Yes, "overfished" is a technical term.

What is most interesting is that on Nantucket we would all agree last year that we had a great Striped Bass year, so this might seem out of left field. The reality though is that in the last eight years there have been three strong year classes and the fish that we are seeing between 15-30 inches are part of these year classes.

The issue is that very few fish between 32-42 inches are being caught. For the first time in a long time commercial fishermen did not catch their quota. The fear here is that with so few breeders that it will be difficult to rebuild the population in the coming years if regulations are not adjusted. In short, too many breeding fish are dying at the hands or recreational and commercial fishermen as well as by-catch to the trawlers. The spawning can not keep up with the death rate.

The board will be studying the data closely in the next few months and it is thought potential regulations could be adjusted by the Fall of 2019 for the 2020 season. Until then, we all must do our part and release as many fish as we can, while being mindful to using single hooks or at the least, pinch our barbs.It is very interesting that 9% of fish released are thought to die, so we must do our part to lower that number.

The resources below provide more information.