ASMFC 81st Annual Meeting (10/18/23) & Chesapeake Bay 2023 YOY Report


ASMFC 81st Annual Meeting of the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board


Tomorrow, Wednesday 10/18/23 from 2 – 5 PM EST, the ASMFC will hold its 81st annual meeting of the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board. The webinar link, meeting agenda and meeting material links are all below. On the agenda is considering the approval of draft Addendum II for public comment and the Albemarle-Roanoke Atlantic Striped Bass management update. With recent news of the second-worst spawn on record in Chesapeake Bay (more on that below) the board must act now to approve Addendum II for public comment. At the boards last meeting there were suggestions to remove conservation minded options while keeping and even adding protections for the commercial sector. Given the news of five consecutive years of poor recruitment we really hope the board responds accordingly. As many of you know, that is never a guarantee when it comes to the actions or inaction of the ASMFC.
Assuming draft Addendum II is approved for public comment, it will be the same story as usual, everyone will need to step up and make your voices heard. We will do our best to breakdown the large complex document and help guide you to make the biggest impact possible. As always, we will be in attendance and will report back with a summary of tomorrow’s meeting.

To register for the live webinar please go here: ASMFC 81st Annual Meeting- Striped Bass Management Board (GoToMeeting Webinar ID: 807-430-387)


Maryland Chesapeake Bay 2023 YOY (young-of-year) Survey Results


Unfortunately the Maryland DNR 2023 young-of-year survey has brought more bad news to the table. The juvenile Striped Bass index is dangerously low for a fifth consecutive year. The 2023 young-of-year index is 1.0, well below the long-term average of 11.1 and the second-worst spawn on record. It is very concerning that the Chesapeake commercial quota has seen no reduction. Between Menhaden and Striped Bass, the bay is being sucked dry of all life. The DNR is placing the blame on environmental factors, we don’t disagree with the possibility of that. But if that is true, we need to adjust management of the fishery to offset those factors as fixing those environmental issues is a much longer process. Let’s hope this news does some in good in the way of encouraging the ASMFC board to get a handle on commercial quota in the bay and also keep more conservation minded options in draft Addendum II.

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ASMFC 2023 Summer Meeting Summary


ASMFC 2023 Summer Meeting Summary

Taylor Vavra | Vice President

The old proverb goes…the higher you climb the harder you fall, it really captures our feelings after the ASMFC striped bass board meeting on August 1, 2023. At the previous spring meeting we proclaimed a major victory for striped bass conservation in the way of unprecedented emergency action and the initiation of Addendum II. Let’s just say, things didn’t go so well at this meeting, and that is a gross understatement. The biggest factor being the decision by the board not to approve Addendum II to be released for public comment. This sets in motion a domino effect which will have massive implications on the rebuilding of the stock. The next review of Addendum II will take place at the October meeting and hopefully (can’t take anything for granted with this board) it will be released for public comment. Those hearings would be held sometime between the October and next board meeting in January of 2024. And herein lies the problem, assuming Addendum II is approved at the meeting in January of 2024, the board has already come to the conclusion that it would be too late for revised commercial regulations to be put in place.

So yet again, the can has been kicked down the road and ultimately the recreational sector will take on the brunt of the reductions aimed at rebuilding the stock. The only real positive takeaway from this meeting is the extension of the emergency action to continue to bridge the gap until Addendum II is approved. In this blog post the plan is to outline the major takeaways from this meeting, once a revised draft Addendum II is available ahead of the October meeting we will dive a little deeper.

  • Addendum II was not approved for release and public comment. The timeline now places that process sometime after the October meeting with final action likely to take place at the following meeting in January of 2024.
  • It will be too late for the implementation of revised 2024 commercial regulations and in turn we will likely not see those until 2025. The reasoning behind this was flimsy at best and mainly centered around the inability of states to be able to create physical tags in time. But why do all states have to implement revised commercial regulations at the same time? The southern states might be in that situation but the commercial season in the northern states starts much later. Clearly the focus is being placed on protecting the commercial sector and not rebuilding the stock.
  • Emergency action was extended to be in place until Addendum II is finalized. The recreational fishery will continue to operate under a 28″-31″ size limit.
  • Addendum II will likely produce a 14% reduction on the commercial side but its the fine print that counts. That reduction will be from the quota, not the landings. So, if a state does not max out it’s quota, it will essentially not be taking any reduction at all. This is totally backwards and is another example of the boards desire to prioritize commercial fishing over rebuilding the stock. Added to the list of reasons we believe there should be no commercial harvest of striped bass.
  • Seasonal harvest closure options were removed for the recreational ocean fishery. This was particularly disappointing, we really believe that seasonal harvest closures would greatly benefit the stock. Areas like Raritan Bay and Jamaica Bay, when striped bass stage to move into the Hudson River to spawn, see immense angling pressure. After 4 straight poor spawns in the Chesapeake, we really need to do all we can to preserve and increase spawning in other major areas.
  • Options for mode splitting for the charter for-hire were added which in reality would allow that sector to kill more fish. This is not the time for this, all parties involved in the fishery should be taking equal reductions to rebuild the stock. This will likely see a lot of backlash as we move though the public comment phase and we will be pushing to have it removed from Addendum II.

This was a tough meeting and we are very unhappy with the direction that the board has chosen to pursue. Recruitment (spawning) in the Chesapeake has been at an near all time low for 4 straight years and there is not indication that it will be any better in 2023. While that is really bad news for the stock it could end up being the saving grace as the board meets again in October. We hope that the board comes to realize that many of the options removed from and added to Addendum II will work against a recovery of the stock. Please stay tuned as things progress, the YOY (recruitment/spawn) data for the Chesapeake will be available soon.

From the ASMFC:

Arlington, VA – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board extended the current emergency action through October 28, 2024 or until the implementation of Addendum II to Amendment 7 of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan. In May, the Board approved a 31-inch maximum size limit for the 2023 recreational fishery to reduce harvest of the strong 2015-year class. The 31-inch maximum size limit applies to all existing recreational fishery regulations where a higher (or no) maximum size applies, excluding the May Chesapeake Bay trophy fisheries which already prohibit harvest of fish less than 35 inches. All bag limits, seasons, and gear restrictions remain the same. All states and jurisdictions implemented the required measure by July 2, 2023.

The emergency action responds to the unprecedented magnitude of 2022 recreational harvest, which is nearly double that of 2021, and new stock rebuilding projections, which estimate the probability of the spawning stock rebuilding to its biomass target by 2029 drops from 97% under the lower 2021 fishing mortality rate to 15% if the higher 2022 fishing mortality rate continues each year.

The extension of the emergency action provides the Board time to develop and finalize Draft Addendum II, which will consider 2024 management measures designed to reduce fishing mortality to the target. Specifically, the Draft Addendum will propose options for the ocean recreational fishery, including modifications to the slot limit with harvest season closures as a secondary non-preferred option. It will also propose options for the Chesapeake Bay recreational fisheries, as well all commercial fisheries, including maximum size limits.

The Board made changes to the Draft Addendum’s options and sought additional analyses on the impacts of those revised options to the rebuilding of the resource. The Board will review a revised Draft Addendum and consider its approval for public comment in October at the Commission’s Annual Meeting. If approved, the document will be made available for public comment and the states/jurisdictions will conduct public hearings to solicit public comment throughout the fall/early winter. It’s anticipated that the Board will consider public comment and take final action in January at the Commission’s Winter Meeting. For more information, please contact Toni Kerns, Fisheries Policy Director, at


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Action Alert: VA Menhaden Fishery Gear Restrictions

Photo Credit: David Shupp

ACTION ALERT: VA Menhaden Fishery Gear Restrictions

Taylor Vavra | Vice President


Menhaden need your help! Menhaden are an important food source, not only for striped bass, also; whales, dolphins, red drum (redfish), weakfish, fluke, osprey, crab, the list goes on. Nearly all marine life benefits in some way from a healthy and abundant menhaden population. Omega Protein Corporation, owned by the Canadian multinational Cooke Inc., removes hundreds of millions of pounds of menhaden from the Atlantic ocean every year. In Virginia, they are allowed to remove 112 million pounds from the Virginia side of the Chesapeake Bay each year. Now it has been discovered that their methods and locations of fishing are doing even more damage to the bay and its marine life. Using purse seine nets in waters with a depth that is less than the length of the net is catastrophic in a variety of ways. But first, a little understanding of what a purse seine net is and how it operates is important.

A purse seine is a large wall of netting deployed around an entire area or school of fish. The seine has floats along the top line with a lead line threaded through rings along the bottom. Once a school of fish is located, skiffs encircles the school with the net. At that point the bottom of the net is left open for a period of time to allow bycatch (non-targeted species) to escape. The lead line is then pulled in, “pursing” the net closed on the bottom, preventing fish from escaping by swimming downward.

Illustration: NOAA

The issue being addressed by this petition revolves around the use of this type of net in water depths in which the bottom of the net sits directly on the seabed. In doing so, it not only prevents bycatch from escaping through the bottom of the net, but is also greatly disturbs the seabed. Sea grass and marine life who make the seabed their home are directly and gravely impacted. Omega Protein operates under the Marine Stewardship Council Sustainability Certification which requires that the net “has no contact with the seabed” in order to have low levels of bycatch. Supporting this petition is a no brainer, Omega Protein is using fishing gear improperly and violating the terms of their sustainability certification.

So how can you help? It’s really quite easy, an online petition has been established in Virginia, you can view it clicking here. You can quickly and easily submit your comments by clicking here. Below are a few important points to mention in your comments.

  • Omega Protein is using purse seine nets improperly and in violation of the Marine Stewardship Council Sustainability Certification under which they operate.
  • Use of these nets in shallow water, less than 60 feet, does not allow bycatch (non-targeted species) to escape.
  • Use of these nets in shallow water, less than 60 feet, causes catastrophic damage to the seabed, seagrass and marine life.
  • Restricting the depth in which these nets can be used will also help to avoid unnecessary net spills, tears and in turn a waste of the resource.

Please take a few minutes of your time to submit your comments and be part of the process. Accountability is an extremely important part of fisheries management and we all must do what we can to ensure that Omega Protein operates in a way which minimizes damage to the ecosystems in which they operate. Thank you for your continued support!


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ASMFC 2023 Summer Meeting | Tuesday 8/1/23 1:45 – 5:45 PM EST

ASMFC 2023 Summer Meeting

Taylor Vavra | Vice President

Tomorrow August 1, 2023 from 1:45 – 5:45 PM EST the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board will meet as part of the ASMFC 2023 summer meeting (webinar live streaming link and meeting document links are below). At the May 2023 meeting, it became clear that the 2029 rebuilding timeline was in serious jeopardy when 2022 recreational landing data was released, effort was up in 2022 and in turn harvest (landings) had doubled. The board reacted by taking emergency action, narrowing the slot to 28-31″. They also unanimously voted to adopt the following motion.

Move to initiate an Addendum to implement commercial and recreational measures for the ocean and Chesapeake Bay fisheries in 2024 that in aggregate are projected to achieve F-target from the 2022 stock assessment update (F=0.17). Potential measures for the ocean recreational fishery should include modifications to the Addendum VI standard slot limit of 28-35″ with harvest season closures as a secondary non-preferred option. Potential measures for Chesapeake Bay recreational fisheries, as well as ocean and bay commercial fisheries should include maximum size limits. The addendum will include an option for a provision enabling the Board to respond via Board action to the results of the upcoming stock assessment updates (e.g. currently scheduled for 2024 and 2026) if the stock is not projected to rebuild by 2029 with a probability greater than or equal to 50%.

There is a lot on the table for tomorrows’ meeting, as you see in the draft agenda below. There is also a lot of speculation swirling in regards to what will happen with Addendum II. Today we will keep this short and simple as this upcoming meeting will hopefully finalize the language of draft Addendum II. The next step would be to release Addendum II for public comment and again we will have a series of public hearings and another opportunity for written comments. After that takes place in August and September the board will meet sometime in October to review said public comment and then take final action on Addendum II.

The for hire sector and others remain opposed to the emergency action and likely will also oppose Addendum II. As always, we will be here to summarize tomorrow’s meeting and when the time comes, work towards a call to action in response to any public comment period. It may seem like this is a never ending process, we sometimes feel the same way. We can’t take our foot off the gas, because if we do, an abundant and healthy striped bass stock may become a distant memory.

For live updates during the meeting please follow us on Instagram and look for our stories as the meeting progresses.

Thank you for your continued support!


Tuesday August 1, 2023 (1:45AM – 5:45 PM EST) | Summer Meeting Live Streaming


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