Two Bad News Tidbits

It would be a mistake to draw scientific conclusions from only one example showing a severe reduction in the striped bass fishery. However, the following is one of thousands of real-time fishing reports that cannot be ignored. This report is condensed from an article by Bill Cochran on Jan. 15, 2014 that appeared in the Roanoke (VA) Times newspaper.

“The Jan. 9-11 Mid-Atlantic Rockfish Shootout is an 11-year old event offering more than $217,000 in prizes for big fish. It has the reputation of being the largest striper tournament in the country.

The stripers were a no-show. The shootout, organized in 2004 to highlight what the sponsors said was some of the finest striper fishing on the East Coast, was telling a different story:

Thursday, no fish weighed in. Friday, skunked again. Saturday the tournament ended with no fish being weighed in for all three days!”

How much longer or what more is needed to “prove” to the regulators that wild striped bass are in trouble. These fish need game fish status to protect them from over-zealous managers that are fixated by their myopic goal of maximum sustained yield instead of maximizing conservation.

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There are preliminary reports that wild Striped Bass, especially fish greater than 34 inches, are not to be consumed because they may have unsafe levels of mercury. Although the Health Department of our neighboring State of Rhode Island still claims they are low in mercury they nevertheless advise against eating wild striped bass at all!

“Avoid eating bass, pike, tilefish, king mackerel fish, and pickerel. Swordfish, shark, bluefish, striped bass, and freshwater fish (with the exception of stocked trout) that are caught in Rhode Island should also not be eaten. Although mercury levels in bluefish and striped bass are low, the Food and Drug Administration cautions against eating these fish because of the presence of other contaminants known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs”  RI Dept. Public Health 2014,

In Massachusetts, the lobbying arm of the commercial striped bass fishermen must have a very persuasive presence. According to Massachusetts officials the same fish that Rhode Islanders are being told not to eat are being touted as great table fare once they swim into Massachusetts waters!

This lack of official concern for the public safety, especially for the unborn, the innocent children and pregnant women is strong evidence of the myopic greed that a commercial market place creates. Given the scientifically accepted effects of mercury exposure on some fetuses, pregnant women and women who are planning pregnancies should be particularly advised to not eat fish that have high levels of mercury or PCB’s.

This is but one more example of the dark side to having a commercial striped bass fishery anywhere but especially here in Massachusetts. These wild stripers are valuable as a sport or recreational only fish (game fish) but as a commercial fish they are a danger to our health and should not be sold to the public… at least not without strong and well publicized warnings everywhere it is for sale or is served.

These posts by Dean Clark, MA Co-Chair, Stripers Forever

 

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stripers@stripersforever.org

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