The striped bass is an iconic East Coast fish. Almost every state along the Atlantic seaboard has opportunities to catch this most prized of gamefish at different times during the year as they follow bait schools up the coast.

Each of the states along the coast has their own programs and regulations surrounding the conservation of this precious resource. Because they are a migratory fish, a debate is going on as to whether or not the fish should be managed at the federal level. Female breeding stock is in decline, necessitating a hard look at existing management practices. This article from Newsday discusses what’s being considered.

striper_njdfwA federal commission is considering new limits on striped-bass fishing in eastern coastal states including New York that would reduce the harvest by around a third in one to three years, starting in January.

At a meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, this week, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission discussed a range of proposals, such as keeping the status quo, increasing the minimum allowable size of keeper bass, reducing the number of fish that can be kept, and implementing a size range for keepers to allow larger and smaller fish to reach maturity and spawn. Commercial fishing would see a proportionate reduction.

The proposed measures are aimed at stemming a decline in the female striped-bass spawning stock, which has seen steady reductions since 2004, while protecting a sizable generation of 3-year-old fish that would reach sexual maturity over the next three years, said Michael Waine, striped-bass management-plan coordinator for the commission.

“It’s proactive,” Waine said of the measures being considered. “The board is very aware of where this stock is. It’s trying to remain proactive in managing this resource so that we can maintain a healthy status [and] we’re not in a situation where we wait for a problem before we act.”

Photos: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (top); New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife (above)