The Job's Not Done Until We Bring Back The Big Bass

Striped bass stocks were declared "recovered" seven years ago, but many observers still see the fishery as a shadow of its former self.

Striped bass stocks were declared ''recovered'' seven years ago, but many observers still see the fishery as a shadow of its former self. A recently released National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study of the Atlantic Striped Bass concludes that while numbers of small bass have increased, large bass remain scarce. As noted in the report: ''The distribution of age classes in a population has important implications for stock productivity and stability. Studies on striped bass have shown that larger fish produce larger eggs and larvae, and larger individuals of these life stages have a greater chance of survival (Zastrow et al. 1989; Monteleone and Houde 1990).''It is clear that having a significant number of large fish in the striped bass population is not only desirable from an angling perspective, it has important biological ramifications as well. But scientific assessments can only make recommendations. It is up to the commissioners of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, guided by the public, to write a management plan that addresses the large fish issue. The window of opportunity to address this issue will be open for a short period later this spring, when hearings will be held to provide public input to Amendment Six of the Striped Bass Management Plan.A concerned group of anglers have formed a coalition called Friends of the Striper to raise awareness about what's at stake with Amendment Six. The group recognizes that recent successful spawns can one day yield more large fish, but the only way to ensure a successful recovery is to have a management plan with appropriate biological targets that lead to a more natural mix of age classes.Make your opinions count by attending the Amendment Six hearings and by telling your state commissioners to bring ''Bring Back the Big Bass.'' Contact information for your state commissioners can be located at www.asmfc.orgTo learn more about how you can make a difference, please write to Friends of the Striper, PO Box 347, Massapequa, NY 11758. A free ''Bring Back The Big Bass'' bumper sticker is also available - just send a self addressed stamped envelope to the address above.