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ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today the approval by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) of the spring 2006 trophy fishing season for striped bass. The season will run from April 15 to May 15 with a minimum size limit of 33 inches for the recreational and charterboat 2006 fishery.

This increase from the 28 inch limit of 2005 will satisfy Maryland’s commitment to resolve the higher than expected harvest of migratory striped bass that occurred in the spring 2005 trophy season. In 2005, Maryland experienced an unusually long and cool spring season and cool water held migratory striped bass in the mid and upper Chesapeake Bay for longer periods than experienced in previous years. The migratory fish were easily accessible to anglers over a longer period of time and increased numbers in the harvest caused Maryland’s migratory fish quota to be exceeded.

In order to address the overharvest and comply with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass, Maryland will reduce the catch in 2006 by increasing the legal minimum size for the recreational and charterboat fishery from the existing 28 inches to 33 inches for the period April 15 to May 15.

In preparing this solution, DNR discussed multiple options with the Maryland Charterboat Association and heard comments from each of the associations representing regional charterboat and guides associations. DNR also solicited input from the major recreational fishing organizations.

In addition, DNR is announcing new efforts to survey striped bass anglers in order to verify how many anglers participate in the spring trophy season. Maryland licensing agents will begin asking individuals purchasing licenses to indicate whether they will be fishing for trophy striped bass. The Department will survey those individuals by mail to provide an estimate of the harvest of trophy striped bass.

Emergency regulations will be prepared to implement this change by the April 15 start date of the 2006 spring striped bass season.

Striped bass, also known as stripers or rockfish, are the official state fish of Maryland. February 27, 2006

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