Confirming that the true value of striped basslies in keeping it a recreational fishery, Coastal ConservationAssociation (CCA) reiterated its support of gamefish status forstriped bass at a recent national board meeting. The officialposition states that CCA supports the designation of striped bassas a gamefish, the sale of which is illegal.
“Political pressure by commercial interests toopen the fishery to more and more intense harvesting will alwayspose a threat to the striped bass recovery,” said Fred Miller, CCANational Government Relations Committee chairman. “Conferringgamefish status on striped bass would simply be recognition of whatthe fishery is – a recreational fishery.”
Striped bass can live more than 30 years andattain weights in excess of 70 pounds. Past management measureshave provided high population levels of smaller bass, but failed toprovide proper conservation for larger, more mature fish. CCAconservation efforts have always focused on restoring the historicage and size distribution for this important fishery.
In spite of those efforts, the Atlantic StatesMarine Fishery Commission approved Amendment 6 to the striped bassmanagement plan in February 2003, increasing the coastal commercialquota on striped bass by 950,000 pounds.
“The goal of any recovery plan is the return ofthe fish. Unfortunately, experience has shown that fishing pressurecannot be increased until the recovery is complete or you canderail the whole recovery,” said Richen Brame, CCA’s AtlanticStates Fisheries Director. “The recovery of striped bass is one ofthe great conservation successes of all time, but it is not yetcomplete.”
CCA members were alarmed at the Commission’sdecision to increase the commercial quota and ignore the concernsof the largest user group – recreational anglers.
“We have fought and sacrificed for two decades toput striped bass on the road to recovery, but at the first signs ofsuccess the commercial sector is awarded a quota increase of almostone million pounds,” said Charles Witek, vice chairman of CCA’sNational Government Relations Committee. “Gamefish status forstriped bass is another important tool for conserving one of themost valuable marine recreational fisheries in thecountry.”