Striped Bass Populations Dipping Below Stock Thresholds - Seasons in Jeopardy
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is considering banning recreational fishing for trophy-sized striped bass this spring in the state’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay, its coastal waters and Potomac River tributaries because of indications that the species has been overfished.
Striped bass, locally called rockfish, are among the most popular species with regional saltwater anglers. Hundreds of charter captains and thousands of recreational fishermen target the fish throughout the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay region.
In Virginia’s spring trophy season, which is set to run May 1 through June 15, anglers are
allowed one striped bass 36 inches or longer per day.
The commission is scheduled to take up the proposed ban at its April 23 meeting, with a proposed effective date for the emergency regulation of April 29. The rationale for the moratorium is an expected final determination in May by the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board that the large, mostly female rockfish that do most of the spawning are being overfished.
A preliminary assessment delivered to that board showed the estimated overall fishing mortality exceeded the established standard in 2017. Additionally, female spawning stock biomass (the estimated total weight of all spawning-size females) was 151 million pounds, significantly below the 202 million pound threshold.
Female striped bass mature and begin spawning at age six. They can live up to 30 years.
The announcement of the proposed closure states, “Overfishing has been occurring for several years, meaning the rate of striped bass removals from the stock has caused an overfished condition. The number of striped bass harvested recreationally by Virginia fisheries has declined markedly since 2010 when 368,000 striped bass were harvested from all tidal Virginia waters. In 2018, the preliminary recreational striped bass harvest was less than 52,000 fish.”