It is not going to happen. Seriously. No shit. No way. No how. The ASMFC will not institute a moratorium on striped bass and the reason is simple. The best available science does not support it. Now you can complain that the science sucks and is not accurate and in some regards you are correct. But it is the best available science and it is this very science that disclosed the striped bass fishery to be overfished with overfishing occurring.
You have seen the charts and graphs showing the spawning stock biomass. You can easily see that while the biomass is down we are nowhere close to the levels that we saw when the moratorium was declared. It is not going to happen now.
Those of you clamoring for a moratorium are correct though. If no fish are harvested the fishery will rebound much more quickly than through incremental harvest reductions. But we live in a world where politics and economics play a role in any fisheries management decision. That is just reality. A moratorium is not happening now.
So what can we do?
- Well if you feel that strongly about a moratorium, declare a self-imposed moratorium. There are many of us here that fish for the challenge and joy that we get from catching fish and we release everything. Guess what? You have declared a moratorium.
- Get involved with the upcoming fisheries management process to see what you can do to ensure that we have new regulations with a chance of succeeding. When the draft addendum is released listing the various options be vocal about your support or non-support of the options. Do your research. Investigate the pros and cons of slot sizes. Be an informed and educated contributor to the process.
- Insist that the Striped Bass Management Board adopt rules to ensure that any states proposing conservation equivalency options must agree to be managed in order to ensure that the targeted harvest reduction is met. If your proposal is supposed to realize a 17% reduction and only realizes a 5% reduction, adjustments should be made the following season. No more bullshit gifts like the one given to the Chesapeake Bay last time around.
- Finally, get off the sidelines. Your participation in the process is ever critical. Motivate a friend or two that has not been involved to get involved. Writing letters and emails, placing calls to your state representatives and showing up at a meeting or two will make the difference. This is what worked in 2014 and it is what will work again.
So please enough talk of the moratorium. We need to live in the world of reality and use our time and words and efforts wisely. And let’s pray that the ASMFC doesn’t screw things up so badly that I have to eat my words some day.