ASMFC 80th Annual Meeting (11/7/22), Stock Assessment Update & MD YOY Report

ASMFC 80th Annual Meeting of the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board


On Monday 11/7/22 from 3 – 5:30 PM EST the ASMFC will hold its 80th 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 consideration of the 2022 stock assessment update (more info below) and Draft Addendum 1 (commercial quota transfers). As always we will be in attendance and will report back with a summary of the meeting.

To register for the live webinar please go here: ASMFC 80th Annual Meeting- Striped Bass Management Board (GoToMeeting Webinar ID: 153-669-435)


ASMFC 2022 Stock Assessment Update

On October 26th, ahead of the 80th annual meeting, the 2022 stock assessment update was released. While there is some good news, it is important to look a the big picture before anyone begins to celebrate. We were fully expecting some bad news from this update and are now equally alarmed at the idea that things seem to be turning around. As you will see in the two charts below the update now states that the stock is no longer experiencing overfishing. The fishing mortality rate (F) is now at a level below both the target (dashed line) and threshold (red line), overall there were less fish being killed in 2021. You could point to a number of reasons for this but most likely the main reason being reduced effort.

On the flip side, the stock is still overfished, the SSB (spawning stock biomass) is well below the threshold reference point (red line).

As you can see in the chart it does appear that the SSB is headed in the right direction, maybe the slot is working? Either way it appears we have a few more years before the stock is no longer overfished. Several of the strong year classes will soon be within the slot and that could easily push the SSB back in the wrong direction coming out of four straight years of poor recruitment.

The stock assessment update is projecting a 78.65% chance of the stock being rebuilt by 2029 if fishing mortality (F) remains the same. Based on this, the assessment states that there is currently no need for a reduction in catch. While that is a high percentage, what happens if effort and in turn fishing mortality increases in the coming years? In conjunction with poor recruitment (young-of-year) there is a good possibility that the ASMFC is setting itself up for disaster. This is when we return to our belief that a coast-wide recreational and commercial harvest moratorium is the most fool-proof way to rebuild this stock. While many point towards recreational catch and release mortality as a driving cause for the current condition of the stock, 9% of those fish will not survive as opposed to 100% of those harvested. Based on NOAA data, in 2021 3.5 million pounds of Striped Bass were removed (harvested) by the commercial sector and 15.8 million pounds on the recreational side. So if a harvest moratorium were put in place, each year roughly 20 million pounds of Striped Bass would remain alive. With all the ifs, ands and buts surrounding this assessment and the management of the stock by the ASMFC we still believe that a temporary coast-wide recreational and commercial harvest moratorium would be the best option at this point in time. Unfortunately there is very little likelihood of that or any other reduction happening based on this stock assessment update.

In addition to these uncertainties, in a blog post on Nov. 5th, the folks at ASGA brought to light some very upsetting news regarding CE (conservation equivalency). To quickly summarize, because management measures are not going to change (stock assessment update) it is possible that both Maryland and NJ could continue to use CE. There was nearly complete agreement amongst organizations and the public on the removal of CE during the Amendment 7 process. The fact that it remains a question only leads to more mistrust in the ASMFC and their ability to manage Striped Bass back to abundance. We urge you to read their blog post and immediately email your states commissioner and ask that they  keep CE fully off the table until the stock not experiencing overfishing and is not overfished.

MDDNR 2022 YOY (young-of-year) Survey Results

Unfortunately the Maryland DNR 2022 young-of-year survey has brought more bad news to the table. The juvenile Striped Bass index is dangerously low for a forth consecutive year. This lack of good recruitment is not good and could have long term implications even if the stock is rebuilt by 2029. Rebuilding the stock is wonderful as long as we have fish entering the system and growing to spawning size. While it seems that spawning in VA and NY has been better than normal, the Chesapeake is a primary spawning area for Striped Bass and without it there is yet again more uncertainty around the future of Striped Bass, rebuilt stock or not.

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ACTION ALERT- ASMFC Summer Meeting (8/2/22)


ASMFC Summer Meeting of the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board


On Tuesday 8/2/22 from 1:30 – 5 PM EST the ASMFC will hold its summer meeting of the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board (meeting agenda below). This has the potential to be a very important meeting as there will be an update on the forthcoming stock assessment, tentatively due to be released in October. Along with many others, we are not expecting great news to come from the stock assessment update. After several years of poor recruitment (also referred to as YOY- Young of Year or JAI- Juvenile Abundance Index) and increased effort (more anglers fishing for Striped Bass) things are headed in the wrong direction and it is very likely that more action will need to be taken in order to reach the goal of rebuilding by 2029.


The meeting materials (links at the bottom of this email) contain some very interesting and somewhat scary data points regarding poor recruitment, a downturn in SSB (spawning stock biomass) and abuses of conservation equivalency. As always we will be in attendance and will report back with a summary of the meeting and a closer look at some of these data points.


To register for the live webinar please go here: (Webinar ID: 822-004-851)

Thank you!



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ASMFC Draft Amendment 7 Has Been Approved

ASMFC 2022 Spring Meeting

Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board- Meeting & Final Action Summary

By Taylor Vavra (Vice President)

On May 4, 2022 the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board approved Draft Amendment 7 to the interstate management plan. After more than 2 years of deliberation, hard work and public comment we now have a plan in place that will hopefully solidify the rebuilding of the stock. Did everything go as we had hoped? No, but this was still a big win for Striped Bass conservation.

During the PID portion of this process, Stripers Forever made the suggestion that we were in need of a equitable harvest moratorium (both recreational and commercial) to restore the stock. Unfortunately the ASMFC turned that around and offered only an option for a recreational harvest moratorium, something we could not support. If a harvest moratorium is put in place it absolutely needs to be an equitable one. Since the end of the last moratorium and the prolific seasons that followed, the ASMFC has done nothing but diminish the stock, ultimately leading to overfishing at a time of historically low recruitment. Many have lost faith and trust in the ASMFC’s ability to manage the stock and thus lead to us supporting what would have been the simplest and most full proof way of rebuilding it.

We were also in strong support of seasonal spawning closures as a method of protecting the SSB during the important pre spawn and spawning timeframe. Given the previously mentioned years of historically low recruitment, this would have potentially helped turn that around. There were a few reasons (outlined below) which contributed to that option failing.

Outside of those two items there are a multitude of options to be both excited about and proud of accomplishing. The overwhelming public outcry for accountability, quicker action and more conservation minded management could not be ignored by the board. To say that you played an important part in this outcome would be a major understatement. And for that, we could not be thankful enough.

Major accomplishments included; keeping the current 10 year rebuilding timeframe, keeping triggers and thresholds in place and in some instances improving them, requirements for the board to act quicker in the face of low recruitment and low SSB (spawning stock biomass) and likely most importantly, dramatically reworking CE (conservation equivalency) to limit its usage and close a loophole which previously allowed states to take advantage of it. The win on CE is enough to celebrate but as you will read below, there was so much more.

With Amendment 7 now in place the next major hurdle will be the results of the upcoming stock assessment, likely available sometime around October of 2022. Many believe we are in for some bad news on this front but only time and the data will tell. Based on those findings there is a good chance that either a moratorium or seasonal closures are back on the table as either no harvest or no target. We are fisherman too, we don’t look forward to not being able to get out on the water and chase Striped Bass. But at the same time, we need to do what is best for the fishery and if that means missing out on some fishing to let mother nature do her thing and rebuild the stock, then so be it.

Stripers Forever has been and always will be about doing what is the absolute best for the fishery, not our own self interests. We maintain a long term vision and hope of an abundant and healthy stock. The fish deserve it, as do our younger generations who have not had the chance to experience an abundant and healthy fishery.

Thank you for your continued support and for being a part of the process!

(At the bottom of this blog post you will find links to the audio and slides (YouTube video), presentations (PDF), ASMFC meeting summary and the ASMFC new release.)


The meeting started off with a fairly quick discussion and vote on the rebuilding plan, section 4.4 of Draft Amendment 7. For section 4.4.1 the board approved option B, to rebuild the SSB to target level by no later than 2029. For section 4.4.2, again the board voted to approve option B, to allow for quick board action in the event that the next stock assessment indicates that we cannot rebuild the stock within the timeframe. We supported both of these options so let’s consider this a win. This is based off the “low recruitment regime assumption”, averaging the lower years of the juvenile abundance index (JAI) or young of year (YOY) instead of including some of the higher years. This is a more conservative and realistic approach to the rebuild.

After a lunch break the board dived into the meat and potatoes of Draft Amendment 7 and started off with section 4.1 Tier 1 Fishing Mortality (F) Management Triggers. Another win here, we supported options A1, B1 and C1. While status quo options were selected, the board did not elect to approve any of the other sub options which would have weakened and allowed for longer timelines to reduce fishing mortality (F). Long story short, these were the best options on the table.

Moving on, the board then discussed Tier 2 options and with another quick vote approved sub options A2, B1 and C1. Another win across the board, we supported all three options approved. Sub option A1 did not put in place a deadline to implement a rebuilding plan. The board now must implement a rebuilding plan within two years of the SSB (spawning stock biomass) management trigger being tripped. Sub option B1 keeps in place a trigger if SSB falls below the threshold and C1 offers the shortest time frame to rebuilding if the female SSB falls below the target.

Next up were the Tier 3 options and Stripers Forever supported sub options A3 and B2. While the options we supported were not approved these options do improve on where we were at prior. A2 works off a ‘moderate sensitivity trigger’ as opposed to A3 which would be considered a ‘high sensitivity trigger’. B3 puts in place an interim F target and interim F threshold calculated using the low recruitment assumption and allows for reevaluation using those reference points. The management program then must be adjusted  to reduce F to that interim target within the timeline defined in Section 4.1 (1 year).

Lastly for section 4.1 the board discussed and voted on the Tier 4 Deferred Management Action sub options. The board approved sub option F, this was an unfortunate turn of events, the public has lost faith and trust in the board and wanted any deferred management options to be removed. This essentially creates a loophole where the board can defer action if action is already being taken in response to a different trigger. We will have to see how this plays out as things move forward. For now we have to chalk this one up to a lose, nothing horrific but this could open the door to problems in the future. We will have to cross that bridge when we get there and again speak up and hold the board accountable for their actions.

We supported sub option B2-B of section 4.2.2 because it would have provided the best protection for the SSB while they spawn. The motion on the table was for option B2-A, a required no harvest spawning closure. While not our first choice we would have been thrilled to see any type of spawning closure. Unfortunately the motion failed in a 4-11-1 vote. This was a lost opportunity to protect pre spawn and spawning fish which we believe is vital to the recovery of the SSB and stock as a whole. Many other species benefit from shortened seasons or spawning closures and Striped Bass should as well. Especially considering the stock is currently overfished with overfishing occurring, the least we can do is allow for a short window of uninterrupted spawning. There were several factors which contributed to this vote, enforcement and compliance at the top of the list. The claimed inability to enforce these closures is an excuse not to enact them, not a reason. Putting the no target closure aside, a no harvest closure is easily enforceable, especially in a place like the upper Hudson River where there are fewer species being targeted during that timeframe and a much smaller geographic area to cover. The board needs to put the fish first and let the states develop and fund the enforcement needed to make these options a reality. Compliance was another driving factor as there was a (largely unsubstantiated) claim that the current 80% compliance estimate is likely inaccurate and therefore would make this option pointless. This is largely an unfounded claim, with substantial penalties put in place on the enforcement side we believe the 80% compliance estimate is easily reachable if not surpassed. This is where gear and boat seizures could have played an important role in dissuading anglers from breaking these laws. We may be having this conversation again based on the outcome of the next stock assessment next fall.

With a unanimous vote the board approved a modified version of sub option C1 of section 4.2.2 which would make it unlawful to use a gaff when fishing for Striped Bass. This is a no brainer, gaffing fish with the current state of the stock just makes no sense. Very happy to see this option approved.

Stripers Forever supported sub option D1 would have required states to perform outreach and education. We believe both of these items are essential to reducing recreational discard mortality, potentially accounting for 50%, it is believed to be one of the biggest contributors to overall mortality. We did not want to give states the option to do so. It seems that states are aware of its importance and hopefully take the action needed. Either way we will certainly make a major effort to improve our contribution in these outreach and education efforts.

This was another easy choice and we are happy to see sub option C2 of section 4.2.2 approved. If fishing for other species on unapproved gear (think bait fishing with a j-hook for sea bass or blackfish) a by-catch Striped Bass must be returned to the water immediately without unnecessary injury.

Finally the board began to address section 4.6 Alternative State Management Regimes. This was a very important section and we were very happy with the results. First up, the board approved sub option B1-A. CE (conservation equivalency) programs would not be approved when the stock is overfished. This was a major win and will prevent states like Maryland and New Jersey from taking advantage of CE to avoid reductions to rebuild the stock. CE has no place in a fishery which is currently overfished with overfishing occurring.

Options C & D of section 4.6.2 were up next. We supported sub options C3 and D3 which operated on the tightest estimates, least amount of risk and largest buffer. We would have liked to have seen more conservative options selected but this is still an improvement and further limits and dissuades CE usage.

Another big win here in the battle to limit CE damage. Stripers Forever supported the approved sub option E2. Coast-wide reductions, like the most recent 18%, affect each state differently, some states represent a larger share than others. Up until now CE has essentially created a loophole where states could implement CE to avoid taking their full share of the reduction. Point and case, New Jersey during the last 18% coast-wide reduction. This is a bit complicated but, the condensed explanation is that option E2 requires states who choose to implement CE to take on their full share of the reduction under the coast-wide measures.

The beginning of the end. Motion passes unanimously and all provisions of Amendment 7 as approved above are now effective immediately.

Amendment 7 to the the Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan (as amended today) was unanimously approved by the board. This is a huge moment for Striped Bass and a huge step forward in what we hope will be the rebuilding of the stock. While everything did not go our way, this is still a big win for Striped Bass.


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ASMFC 2022 Spring Meeting- Draft Amendment 7 Final Action

ASMFC 2022 Spring Meeting

Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board

Wednesday May 4, 2022 | 11:30 AM – 5:15 PM (1 hour lunch break included)

Webinar Link:

By Taylor Vavra (Vice President/ National Board Member)

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” Tomorrow, May 4, 2022 the ASMFC Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board will meet to take final action on Draft Amendment 7. Let’s hope that there is a better future for Striped Bass beyond the horizon. At tomorrows meeting the board will take final action on Draft Amendment 7. It will put into action a monumental and comprehensive management plan with the hope of restoring the stock to abundance and preventing similar mistakes from reoccurring in the future. As expected, public comment and sentiment from individuals and organizations was largely in sync and only a few options revealed split preferences.

Stripers Forever supported the options which we believe will best serve the stock and do so in the quickest timeframe. There was good support for seasonal closures to help curb recreational release mortality, the majority in favor of spawning area harvest closures with no target closures coming in second. We will consider this a win as there were 3358 combined comments in support of the two options. We believe that no target closures would be easier to enforce and do less harm to pre-spawn and spawning fish whom could be mishandled in a catch and release scenario. Another win comes in the way of the majority in favor of a requirement for states to perform outreach and education efforts on best handling and release practices. We believe angler education is fundamental to reversing the impact of the recreational sector in regards to release mortality. Lastly, conservation equivalency saw almost unanimous support for the the most conservative options to limit and hopefully prevent the use of it by states who in the past may have taken advantage.

The supplemental materials for the meeting (link below) contains an overview and summary of the public comments received by the ASMFC. This document includes summary tables for each option and a brief descriptions of the option most favored.

We will be tuned in to tomorrows meeting and will be following up with a summary of what takes place and what we should expect in the future.


  • Welcome/Call to Order (M. Gary)
  • Board Consent
    • Approval of Agenda
    • Approval Proceedings from January 2022
  • Public Comment
  • Draft Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Final Approval Final Action
    • Review Options and Public Comment Summary (E. Franke)
    • Advisory Panel Report (E. Franke)
    • Law Enforcement Committee Report (K. Blanchard)
    • Consider Final Approval of Draft Amendment 7
  • Review 2022 Stock Assessment Update Projection Scenarios (K. Drew)
  • Consider Next Steps for Draft Addendum VII to Amendment 6 Possible Action
    • Motion from October 2021: Move to defer until May 2022 consideration by the Atlantic Striped Bass Board of Draft Addendum VII to Amendment 6 to allow further development and review of the transfer options
  • Review and Populate Advisory Panel Membership (T. Berger) Action
  • Elect Vice-Chair Action
  • Other Business/Adjourn


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