ASMFC Draft Amendment 7- Statewide Public Hearing Schedule

States Schedule Public Hearings on Atlantic Striped Bass Draft Amendment 7


Arlington, VA – The Atlantic coastal states of Maine through Virginia have scheduled hearings to gather public input on the Atlantic Striped Bass Draft Amendment 7. Some hearings will be conducted via webinar and some hearings will be conducted in person. Additional details on participating in the webinars can be found later in this release.

Webinar Instructions:

Please note that in order to comment during virtual webinar hearings you will need to use your computer or download the GoToWebinar app for your phone. Those joining by phone only will be limited to listening to the presentation and will not be able to provide input. In those cases, you can send your comments to staff via email, U.S. mail, or fax at any time during the public comment period. To attend the webinar in listen only mode, dial 951.384.3421 and enter access code 269-324-049.

To register for a virtual public hearing webinar please click HERE and select the hearing(s) you plan to attend from the dropdown menu. Hearings will be held via GoToWebinar, and you can join the webinar from your computer, tablet or smartphone. If you are new to GoToWebinar, you can download the software by (clicking here) or via the App store under GoToWebinar. We recommend you register for the hearing well in advance of the hearing since GoToWebinar will provide you with a link to test your device’s compatibility with the webinar. If you find your device is not compatible, please contact the Commission at info@asmfc.org (subject line: GoToWebinar help) and we will try to get you connected. We also strongly encourage participants to use the computer voice over internet (VoIP) so you can ask questions and provide input at the hearing. If you are joining the webinar but will not be using VoIP, you can may also call in at 951.384.3421, access code 269-324-049. An audio PIN will be provided to you after joining the webinar.

For those who cannot attend any in-person or virtual hearings, the Commission will also post a recording of the hearing presentation on the Commission’s YouTube page so that stakeholders may watch the presentation and submit comment at any time during the comment process. This recording will be available in late February; a subsequent press release will announce the availability of the recording.

The schedule issued on February 16 has been revised with the follow changes: Maryland’s public hearing that was scheduled for March 28 has switched from an in-person hearing to a webinar hearing; New York has added an additional in-person hearing scheduled for March 23 in New Paltz, NY.

The public hearing details are as follows:

Tuesday, March 8
In-person Hearing
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Potomac River Fisheries Commission &
District of Columbia Dept. of Energy and Environment
Hearing Location:
Potomac River Fisheries Commission
222 Taylor St, Colonial Beach, VA 22443
Martin Gary, 804.224.7148
Daniel Ryan, 202.597.1244

Wednesday, March 9

Webinar Hearing
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Virginia Marine Resources Commission
Pat Geer, 757.247.2236

Thursday, March 10

Webinar Hearing
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife
John Clark, 302.739.9108

Monday, March 14

Webinar Hearing
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection &
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
Joe Cimino, 609.748.2063
Kris Kuhn, 814.359.5115

Tuesday, March 15

Webinar Hearing
5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management
Jason McNamee, 401.222.4700 x2772414

Wednesday, March 16

In-person Hearing
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Hearing Location:
NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources
123 Kings Park Blvd (inside Nissequogue River States Park), Kings Park, NY 11754
Maureen Davidson, 631.444.0483

Monday, March 21

Webinar Hearing
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
Michael Armstrong, 978.282.0308 x109

Tuesday, March 22

Webinar Hearing
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Connecticut Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection
Justin Davis, 860.447.4322

Wednesday, March 23

Webinar Hearing
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Maine Dept. of Marine Resources
Megan Ware, 207.446.0932

Wednesday, March 23
In-person Hearing
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Hearing Location:
NYSDEC Region 3 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561
Maureen Davidson, 631.444.0483

Monday, March 28

Webinar Hearing
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources
Michael Luisi, 443.758.6547

Tuesday, March 29

Hybrid Hearing
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
New Hampshire Fish and Game
Note: This hearing will be held in a hybrid format. To virtually attend this hearing, please follow the webinar registration instructions.
You can attend in person at this address:
Urban Forestry Center
45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, NH 03801
Cheri Patterson, 603.608.6637

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ASMFC 2022 Winter Meeting- Summary

STRIPED BASS MANAGEMENT BOARD- January 26, 2022

The ASMFC Winter Meeting convened this past Wednesday, January 26 for what was largely a procedural meeting in advance of drafting Amendment 7 to the Striped Bass management plan. There were a few notable revisions to the Amendment which we discuss below.

There is some good news, most importantly, Draft Amendment 7 was approved to be released for public comment before the ASMFC meets for its spring meeting in May of 2022. Assuming approval, the plan will not go into effect fully until 2023. That is because state fisheries regulations are already in place for this year and some of the provisions will have to be formally adopted by various legislatures along the coast. That is the nature of process and more reason why greater urgency is needed to make a difference quickly.

Draft Amendment 7 will be released soon; we will then review and follow up with a full breakdown of the various sections and provide some direction on how to comment. There are four main issues the board approved for development in Draft Amendment 7; Management Triggers, Measures to Protect 2015 Year Class, Recreational Release Mortality and Conservation equivalency. What follows is our summary of the primary items discussed, the decisions made, and our position.

MANAGEMENT TRIGGERS

The first issue discussed was management triggers, this was a very complicated section. The CliffsNotes breakdown here is that this section could possibly delay action by the board by setting requirements for the timeline that triggers a rebuilding of the stock. As written, it would require 3 years of data to declare overfishing and kickstart a rebuilding plan. The consensus of the angling public is that the ASMFC has failed to move fast enough to recover the stock. As we have previously mentioned, the stock was declared overfished in 2018, a little over 3 years later and we are still working on a draft amendment. This section would only further delay action.

The good news here is that Megan Ware (ME) and John McMurray (NY) immediately voiced opposition and a motion was made to remove it from the draft amendment. The board needs to move as quickly as possible if there is any indication that the stock is in trouble and in our opinion, there is little downside to erring on the side of caution. The motion passed (10-6-0-0) and it has been removed, this is a real win for conservation.

YEAR CLASS PROTECTIONS

A recent addition to Draft Amendment 7 was protections for strong year classes (rec size and bag limits), more specifically for the 2015-year class.  There is some data which suggests that this would not make a difference in the recovery of the stock, and that the ASMFC already missed its opportunity to protect the 2015-year class.. The Plan Development Team (PDT) suggested that this be removed and that is just what happened.

The prevailing opinion seems to be that, rather than protect a single year class, focus should be on better overall protection for all fish that run a harvest gauntlet as they migrate from the Chesapeake and up along the coast. If the idea is that stronger overall protections are needed, we support that. But we’ll see what the actual language is when the draft is made public before we offer a position for public comment.

CONSERVATION EQUIVALENCY (CE)

While there was no real discussion or changes made to the CE section of the amendment, there is an important and notable option we were all happy to see. As many of you already know there is consensus amongst almost every conservation organization that CE is often misused and abused, we would all like to see it off the table all together. While that is not the case there is some good news in the way of options B, C and D. With option B1, CE can be restricted if the stock is considered overfished, the SSB (spawning stock biomass) is below target or if overfishing is occurring. Options C and D offer restrictions based on MRIP data (needing to be more precise) and buffers to make up for the fact that CE effect can often be unquantifiable. In that case, a state applying for CE would essentially be hit with an additional reduction to make up for uncertainty of CE.

These options will be our only way to combat the misuse of CE and they will make states reconsider requesting it in the first place. We will go into more detail explaining each option when we give our summary and recommendations for comments on Draft Amendment 7. If we all rally together and speak up there is a real chance we can hit CE where it hurts and that is another win for conservation.

REBUILDING PLAN

As we have said on more than one occasion, the ASMFC is behind the 8-ball when it comes to rebuilding the stock within the required 10 years. The stock was declared overfished with overfishing occurring back in 2018, it is now 2022 and without the unknown variable of the October 2022 stock assessment it is unlikely that it will be rebuilt before 2029. The slide below shows what will happen if the stock assessment indicates that Amendment 7 as-is will be sufficient for rebuilding and what will happen if it does not. If Amendment 7 is unaffected by the assessment there will be no changes, if the rebuilding target will not be met then there would be a need for an addendum to achieve the rebuild.

The inherent problem with the second outcome is that 2023 will be spent developing that addendum and regulations would likely not be put into place until 2024, if we are lucky. With the possibility of only five years to rebuild something had to give. That is when we saw the motion (below) from Mike Armstrong (MA).

This is a one-time measure tied to the results of the 2022 stock assessment and would give the ASMFC the ability to adopt an immediate 5% harvest reduction while the full response to a potential stock emergency is drafted for consideration. Stripers Forever voiced support for this motion because it allows for decisive action in the event that the stock assessment indicates that Amendment 7 will not rebuild the stock by 2029. Thankfully the motion passed by consent of the board.

RECREATIONAL RELEASE MORTALITY

With the current mortality of recreational C&R fishing at 9% and a very large number of anglers choosing to fish (even when practicing catch-and-release), the overall impact on the stock is huge. As you see in the slide below, there are four options for helping to ease this burden on the stock.

Option D, outreach and education, is a no brainer and we would expect little to no push back on support of this option. In our opinion this should a given and both the ASMFC and states should pursue this path, we have strongly suggested it in the past and we will ask that you do so again when the time comes to comment on Draft Amendment 7. Conservation organizations like Stripers Forever have been leading the way on angler education and for improving catch-and-release practice. Support from the ASMFC and individual states would be a welcome addition to the effort.

Where things get a little complicated and confusing is option B, effort controls (seasonal closures). If you fish or live near a major spawning area in the early spring you have probably been witness to the pressure put on these fish as they stage, spawn and then redisperse to continue their migration north. Each spring the NY bight is a prime example of this, and the fish take a beating, especially the large breeders as they stage in Raritan Bay, NJ. It does not take a scientist to come to the conclusion that if these fish were left alone their spawning success would increase. With the stock overfished and overfishing occurring any help is extremely important and we believe that the impact would be substantial.

Things start to go off the rails when it comes to defining these spawning areas. Seasonal closures to spawning locations would be left up to the states. This is both dangerous and confusing. While spawning areas and restrictions are well-defined in the Chesapeake, this is not the case in Delaware Bay or the Hudson River. It also leaves vulnerable fish that gather in places like Raritan Bay as New Jersey would likely argue that Raritan Bay is not a spawning ground.

While that debate continues, Raritan Bay is a staging area for stripers headed up the Hudson, and anglers targeting fish pre- and post-spawn would need to be considered. Any measure that is not regarded as equitable could undermine efforts to protect vulnerable fish. In addition, the board would be asking states like New York (Hudson River) and New Jersey (Raritan Bay) to work together to define this area and potential overlaps as described above. In the past this type of effort has not worked out and it would not be wise to attempt to go down that road again.

It is important that the board define these areas to remove the possibility of issues as described. We cannot leave it up to the states to determine where these closures should take place. When the time comes for public comment, we will dive even deeper into this issue and ask that you comment in favor of well-defined seasonal closures.

IN CONCLUSION

When the complete draft of Amendment 7 is made public (as announced today, on or before February 4th), we will review and provide guidance for the public comment period. We welcome your input and insight throughout this process. The public’s opinion has had noticeable effect on the direction of this Amendment, and members of Stripers Forever, who spoke boldly in favor of a ten-year harvest moratorium, has influenced the direction of Amendment 7.

Thank you for your continued support of Striped Bass and of Stripers Forever.

Taylor Vavra & Mike Spinney

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ACTION ALERT- ASMFC Winter Meeting (1/26/22)

ACTION ALERT

ASMFC Winter Meeting of the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board

1/26/22 | 1:30 – 5 PM EST

Back in March of 2021, the ASMFC published the Draft Amendment 7 PID. While we were hoping to have Draft Amendment 7 released for public comment after the October of 2021 meeting, that did not happen and the proverbial can was kicked farther down the road. There was much discussion and several major components of the amendment were edited, deleted and new sections were added (most importantly protection of the 2015 year class). We can expect to see more tweaking and revising of the draft amendment at tomorrow’s meeting. Here is the draft agenda/meeting overview (starting on page 83) for tomorrow’s meeting. (also at the bottom of this email along with a link to the supplemental materials) The webinar link is below, anyone can join and we strongly encourage you to be part of the process.

Striped Bass were declared overfished with overfishing occurring back in 2018 with the stock assessment accepted by the board in 2019. As you can see below the current schedule for a finalized Amendment 7 is May 2022. With 2022 regulations already in place, states will likely not implement the revised Amendment 7 regulations until 2023. The recovery of the Striped Bass stock is behind schedule based on the required 10 year rebuilding requirement and we need action to be taken ASAP. The recovery of the Striped Bass stock is behind schedule based on the required 10 year rebuilding requirement and we need action to be taken ASAP. While this is a long process, it is a necessary one, we need an amendment that will bring the best possible outcome for the stock. Please do your best to stick with it, when the time comes for your voice to be heard we will surely let you know.

 

Tomorrow (1/26/22 – 1:30 – 5 PM EST) the ASMFC will hold its winter meeting of the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board and consider Draft Amendment 7. This will be a consequential meeting and we strongly encourage all who can, to attend and pay close attention. The hope is that this meeting will lead to Draft Amendment 7 being released for public comment. At that time it is all hands on deck, we will all need to do our part to protect the fish we love and speak up louder than ever before. We will do our best to inform our members and followers of what is on the table and offer some guidance in how to comment on Draft Amendment 7.

To register for the live webinar please go here: ASMFC 2022 Winter Meeting

Thank you!


ADDITIONAL LINKS


 

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ACTION ALERT- ASMFC Fall Meeting

ACTION ALERT

ASMFC Fall Meeting of the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board

Back in March, when the ASMFC published the Draft Amendment 7 PID, we made the hard call to suggest a harvest moratorium for both the recreational and commercial sectors. This was not something we rushed to judgement on and it came with much discussion and deliberation. We still believe it is the right call and the only foolproof way to restore the Striped Bass stock. Fast forward to today and the recently published Chesapeake Bay 2021 Young-of-Year survey results and that decision makes more sense now than ever before. (see graph below) For the third straight year the YOY number is scary low, this year hitting just 3.2, a dismal result and a bad sign for the overall health of the stock. We need strong conservation action and we need it right NOW.

Tomorrow (10/20/21) the ASMFC will hold its fall meeting of the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board and consider Draft Amendment 7. This will be a consequential meeting and we strongly encourage all who can, to attend and pay close attention. It is likely that this meeting will lead to Draft Amendment 7 being released for public comment. At that time it is all hands on deck, we will all need to do our part to protect the fish we love and speak up louder than ever before.

To register for the live webinar please go here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/180425878123839504 (Webinar ID: 349-122-851)

Thank you!


ADDITIONAL LINKS


 

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CONTACT INFO

Stripers Forever | 209 Winn Road Falmouth, ME 04105
stripers@stripersforever.org

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