A new striped bass management plan proposed by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) would benefit fewer than 270 commercially licensed fishermen while driving up the market price for wild fish and severely penalizing many of The Commonwealth’s 548,000-plus resident striper anglers – plus many thousands of tourist anglers — and the industries that support them
“According to the latest data from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which manages striped bass on the Atlantic Coast, large, breeding-size stripers are being seriously over-fished,” says Brad Burns, president of Stripers Forever, an internet-based recreational fishing organization. “But in order to reserve as many of those beleaguered big fish as possible for the commercial quota, the DMF has set the minimum-size recreational striper limit at 28 inches, high enough to deprive most shore-based anglers in Massachusetts of a reasonable chance to catch any legal-size stripers to eat.
“Not only is the DMF’s new striped bass proposal bad public policy; in business circles, it would violate anti-trust laws,” Burns adds.
In a letter to Governor Romney dated March 31, 2005, Stripers Forever says “…if the real goal of commercial fishing [in Massachusetts] is to feed people, it is a failed policy where striped bass are involved.” In fact, aquaculture already supplies 60 percent more striped bass to the market than does the wild fishery. But aquaculture faces strong economic disincentives to expand production of striped bass due to the seasonal, low-priced glut of commercially harvested wild fish – a glut which doesn’t benefit consumers because the retail prices of wild stripers and fish raised through aquaculture are virtually identical.
Stripers Forever (www.stripersforever.org) advocates eliminating all market fishing for wild striped bass, reducing overall mortality, and managing the expanded resource for recreational/personal use fishing as is currently being done in six states between Maine and South Carolina.
To read the DMF’s proposed plan and the full rebuttal from Stripers Forever, as well as a summary of the newly released Southwick Study entitled “The Economics of Recreational and Commercial Striped Bass Fishing,” log onto www.stripersforever.org and click on Articles and Research. For further information, contact Brad Burns through the website.