It is truly a great pleasure to live by one of the greatest estuaries of the United States. It provides food, livelihoods, and recreation for many of its inhabitants and neighbors.
Now one of its treasures is being threatened.
Our rockfish (striped bass) are ensuing threats to their existence and all our state’s inhabitants are threatened with it.
There is no doubt that there are many faults to go around. This is not to point fingers as who’s to blame, but instead to note that all must share in this recovery effort.
Both the recreational and commercial fisheries should share in the recovery equally. The population of our striped bass will suffer long-term if this is not addressed immediately.
Living in the Maryland coastal bays area, we have a somewhat tailored view.
Recreational fishermen on the coast have a much smaller area to fish. We have a fishing limit of three miles into the Atlantic Ocean.
Not many statistics exist for the coastal bays. Our keeper fish are 28 inches minimum (with a slot). Chesapeake Bay’s is 18-28 inches depending on the time of year.
In the past several years, Marine Resource Information Program (MRIP) reported catch limits are declining with future stock spawn severely reduced.
There are year-round rockfish in the coastal bays and local anglers know where they are. MRIP interceptors are not to go to private docks nor are they allowed to go on the water.
In addition, they (the interceptors) are not used in the off-season.
Currently MRIP has no catch statics for the Atlantic coastal bay area.
In order to provide numbers, MRIP is currently using New Jersey figures for the Maryland Atlantic Coastal area. This is not correct nor accurate!
New Jersey catches far more striped bass than the recreational anglers on the Maryland Atlantic Coast.
Using the New Jersey catch data inflates our catch numbers, thereby penalizing us.
We at the Atlantic Coast Sportfishing Association (ACSA), helped the Maryland Department of Natural Resources capture data for a Recreational Harvest Estimate Project in 2011.
In order for the coastal bays catch to be recognized, we need our local anglers to provide catch data approved by MD DNR. The ACSA is more than willing to be of assistance again.
If you would like to discuss this further, we, at the Atlantic Coast Sportfishing Association, are available.
We also believe that both the recreational and commercial sectors should accept the same percent reduction in catch. We must all work together to restore and preserve striped bass.
Ron Smith, President
Atlantic Coast Sportfishing