Editor's note: we don't usually post letters to the editor online, but with so many contentious issues in fisheries management these days ranging from the Modern Fish Act to menhaden, it's hard to keep pace and make sure everyone's thoughts on these matters are taken into account. Recently we had some thoughtful letters come in from readers regarding the rockfish issues, so we felt it was appropriate to share them here.
Dear FishTalk: I read with great interest the Letter to the Editor in the June issue by Vic M. from Chester, VA, and your response. I first I was a little upset at your response that basically the Upper Bay didn’t have the fishery that the Lower Bay did so you should be allowed to keep rockfish. The more I looked at it and the science behind it, I could see your point. The real kicker is that one body of water has three jurisdictions (Maryland, Virginia, and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission), and three sets of rules. This makes no sense whatsoever. Science is what the fishery decisions should be based on to preserve the Bay and ALL of its fisheries. Not politics or economic development. My suggestion is one season for all of the Bay, as follows:
No striper fishing until July 1 anywhere in the Bay. We must let the species spawn and have a chance to reproduce. July 1 to October 1: two fish per person, sized 20 inches to 24 inches. This would allow the charter and recreational interest to have at least a chance. October 1 to December 31: two fish per person, one fish between 20 inches and 28 inches, and one fish larger than 20 inches regardless of length.
We must do away with all the trophy seasons in the spring and let the fishery respond.
-Kenneth C., Burgess, VA
Dear FishTalk: I've never seen this suggestion as it comes to the rockfish fishery but thought it was a good idea. Rather than shutdowns and talk of a moratorium that only hurts everyone (recreational anglers, charter boats, tackle shops, etc.), how about a switch to artificials only for targeting rockfish. Even if it’s only during the July-August heat wave it would have to help, and no one would be shut down. Sure, it’s harder to be successful, but the fish kills would have to decrease. It’s just an idea, yours for the taking, just want a better fishery as I am a catch and release only fisherman, from both boat and kayak.
-Scott W., via email
Anglers can learn about how striped bass (AKA rockfish) are managed by visiting the ASMFC Atlantic Striped Bass page.