Conservation Is Essential to Save the Striper

The same week the 68th annual Vineyard derby came to a close, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced results of its 58th annual young of the year survey of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay. This is the annual measure of spawning success in the region where the great majority of the Atlantic coast stripers come from. A year ago the average number counted in every seine haul was a dismal 0.9, the lowest ever recorded. In 2013, the number was up somewhat to 5.8, but still well below the long-term average of 11.7. Indeed, five of the past six years have seen below-par figures.

“We see that the legal-sized striped bass will be sparse in the next few years,” a Massachusetts fisheries official told the Gazette. (It takes six years for a striped bass to reach 28 inches, at which size the state’s recreational fishermen are allowed to keep two fish a day). Derby fishermen have simultaneously witnessed a substantial decline in the bigger fish. This year’s largest, of 487 striped bass weighed in by a record 3,160 entrants, were 39.94 pounds from a boat and 34.64 pounds from shore. The once-common 50-pound fish are becoming a distant memory.

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