Department of Marine Resources

Maine’s stripers not stripped yet

Tue, 01/06/2015 - 7:30am

Although the striped sea bass population isn't in danger, plans are on the table to keep it that way.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources held a meeting Monday, Jan. 5 in Yarmouth in which more than 50 charter captains spoke with DMR about the looming 25 percent reduction.

Bruce Joule, director of DMR's Recreational Saltwater Fisheries Program, said via telephone that while there were some concerns about the reductions, by and large the fishermen provided solutions and suggestions on how to tackle the reduced catch limits.

While Monday's meeting wasn't a regulatory one, the fishermen in attendance, who came from throughout the state, offered several opinions as to what avenue the state should take to achieve the reductions.

“Nothing's been decided yet,” he said. “(DMR will need to) sit down in-house and figure out what we can and can't do and come up with an option that works.”

In November 2014, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission mandated that there needed to be a 25 percent reduction in the harvest of Atlantic striped bass, also known as stripers.

Joule said the ASMFC has given Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts several options on how to tackle the reduction, including allowing the states to come up with their own policy, so long as it meets the reduction goal.

Thus far, the most popular option appears to be the reduction from two 28-inch stripers per angler per day down to one, Joule said.

“With that, a lot of it depends on where along the coast you are,” he said.

Once all the information is gathered, the DMR will come up with a regulatory plan that it will roll out to the public via public meetings.

“We'll see what we can, and can't do and come up with something we think works (for the DMR and anglers) and it will have to be approved by the ASMFC,” Joule said.

Joule said that while there is room to be creative, any plan needs to accomplish the 25 percent reduction goal.

The reduction stems from the results of a 2013 striper assessment, which showed that 2012's striper mortality was above the target and that female spawning stock biomass had been declining since approximately 2006.

While the fishery isn't considered to be in grave danger like other fisheries, it was time to take preventative measures, Joule said.

“It's time for us to step up,” he said. “We want to do something about it now.”