With the latest stock assessment showing falling numbers of striped bass and five years running of poor young-of-year index results, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is changing the 2024 Chesapeake Bay season. You only have until December 22 to give comment and let the ASMFC know what you prefer. The options are:
What’s the difference in the options on the table? Look at the graphic above, and note that Option A is a nonstarter as it probably won't rebuild the stock. The B options are those in favor of all anglers getting one fish. The C options are for those in favor of continuing the policy of charter customers being allowed two fish while other recreational anglers get one. If a C option is chosen, the widest slot limit we can hope for is 19” to 24”. If a B option is chosen, the widest potential slot limit can be 19” to 26”.
While anglers in other states may be ready to give their comments, anglers in Maryland are likely saying “Wait a sec – why bother tapping out an email to give comment when the Maryland DNR ignores it anyway?” We don’t blame anyone for thinking that. When this issue came up the last time, 78 percent of the comments were in favor of an equitable split between charters and the rest of the anglers. Seventy-eight percent!! If the Maryland DNR doesn’t find that convincing, why bother?
Because this is the ASMFC creating a single regulation for the entire Bay – Maryland, Virginia, and the Potomac River — taking this particular decision out of the hands of the DNR. And history has shown that unlike MDDNR, the ASMFC does take public comment into consideration. It’s still not a “vote,” but they read the comments and actually care what we think.
We aren’t about to tell anyone which option they should support, as this is a personal decision. We will point out that the Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland is supporting options B1 and B2, as equitable options that are most likely to rebuild the stock. Some other organizations, such as the Annapolis Anglers Club, are supporting B4, since it is also equitable but allows Chesapeake Bay anglers the highest likelihood of being able to harvest a fish.
There are other issues on the table, including coastal limits and commercial limits. We encourage everyone to examine these issues and give feedback if they so desire, but don’t want to cloud this specific issue of Chesapeake Bay limits with too many additional details in this particular post.
Now is the time to act. If you missed the ASMFC meetings, you can send your comments to [email protected]. Be sure to write “Striped Bass Draft Addendum II” in the subject line so your comment goes to the proper parties, be sure to state clearly that your comments are regarding “Recreational Bay Options,” and be sure to specify which B or C option you support. If you care and if you want your voice heard, SEND COMMENTS NOW because they will only be accepted through 12/22/2023.