5 posts in this topic

01/30/2007

BALTIMORE (AP)- The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted Monday to set a target of no less than 30,000 for Maryland's spring harvest of migratory striped bass, rejecting a proposal by state fisheries managers to let Maryland regulate its own harvest, according to commission and state officials.

However, because the commission set a target instead of a cap on the number of rockfish to be taken during the trophy season, Maryland will not be penalized for exceeding the total, which it did the previous two years when caps were in place. Howard King, director of fisheries services for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said he was pleased that the cap was eliminated. He characterized the caps as "arbitrary" because they depend upon inaccurate reports of the rockfish taken by recreational fishermen. "We think that harvest is greatly overestimated," King said. Setting a cap based on that estimate "doesn't work very well, it's not very credible, and it doesn't benefit anyone," he said. King's initial proposal, which would have eliminated caps or targets and allowed Maryland to regulate its own fishery, was rejected by a 7-6 vote, with two states abstaining, at an ASMFC meeting in Arlington, Va. His alternate proposal, which set the target, was approved 10-3. "It's not often that you get everything you ask for the first time around," he said. Striped bass are born in the Chesapeake Bay, then migrate to the ocean when they mature. They return to the bay every spring to spawn, giving Maryland anglers their only realistic chance to catch significant numbers of larger fish. Charter boat captains depend on the spring season for their livelihood, and they had fought strenuously for the removal of the caps. Studies have indicated that the rockfish population, which was severely depleted in the 1980s, continues to rebound. Fishermen hauled in 67,771 migratory rockfish in Maryland's 2006 spring trophy season _ 63.3 percent more than the cap of 41,488 set by the ASFMC. The cap was also exceeded in 2005. The final target for 2007 will be established based on population estimates.

Maryland will be penalized for the number of fish by which it exceeded last year's cap, but only if that would not make the target less than 30,000. The DNR will work with charter boat captains to help them meet the target and will encourage anglers to release the largest rockfish voluntarily, King said. "As long as we don't have any cap, they've achieved the main goal they went down there for," said Buddy Harrison Jr., a past president of the Maryland Charter Boat Association Inc. "We're entitled to our share of those fish, and we should catch 'em." A quirk in the calendar should help keep this year's harvest down. The trophy season always starts on the third Saturday in April, which doesn't fall until April 21 this year. Harrison stressed if charter boat captains want to protect their livelihoods, they also need to work with regulators to ensure the long-term viability of the rockfish population. "The ultimate goal is to protect the fishery," he said. "We've got to keep them coming back and spawning."

Commission Sets Target for Md. Rockfish Harvest, Eliminating Cap

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, they won't call it a cap which is fine. They'll keep bumping the limit until you hit their number. Personally I think if you are going to call it trophy season it should really be trophy season and a fish over 43-45" and you get one tag to use per year. The watermen will never let that happen though and we'll end up with a moritorium again.

I rarely heard of a 32" caught last season EVERYTHING was over 33" and kept. Hell I even scored from a kayak on several trips taking home a keeper 75% of the time. This fall, not too many 33-40" fish caught huh, wonder why?

At least the real bigguns will be out of the bay by the time the season starts this year. That's why I'll be running C&R kayak trips the first 2 weeks of April. Gonna get my 50+, the measurements and send her on her way to make more schoolies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ben, might be a little off topic, but from the way things are going about 3-5 miles offshore, most fish they have been catching are around 37-45".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sorry, in that 33-40 range I meant in the surf and in the bay...it was a bad fall in the mid-upper bay after the slaughter this spring. One of the best years ever, I think there has to be some flexibility when the stars line up like last year and people are bailing them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I believe it was a case of "strange weather" this fall. Cool summer and warm fall. Screwed things up for Delmarva.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now