Rhode Island will hold a webinar hearing tonight from 6-8 PM to discuss commercial quota transfers for striped bass. This is an attempt to maximize the COMMERCIAL HARVEST OF STRIPED BASS by allowing states to transfer unused commercial quotas to other states that currently maximize their allotment. We need our members to attend this hearing on Wednesday and voice their concerns over commercial transfers. ASGA vigorously opposes this effort for the following reasons. According to the 2022 Striped Bass Stock Assessment Update, the stock remains overfished. Therefore, efforts to intentionally increase striped bass removals are antithetical towards rebuilding goals and objectives. The reductions in 2014 and 2019 were taken from the commercial quota and not the commercial harvest. Since the overall commercial harvest is not currently maximized, these reductions were not fully realized. Commercial quota transfers have long been rejected by the Striped Bass Management Board. They were once rejected in the past due to the stock being overfished. Historically, the commercial quota has gone underutilized. Increasing commercial landings, at such a pivotal time for the stock as today, will go against assumptions made by managers and disrupt projections on the stock and rebuilding success. Successful stock rebuilding by 2029, hinges on maintaining a low fishing mortality rate. However, that will be difficult to achieve that low fishing mortality rate if commercial landings increase past historic and assumed utilization—on top of increased effort/mortality due to the stock’s growing abundance. Bottom line—the striped bass stock is still overfished and rebuilding success hinges on maintaining low fishing mortality rates while poor recruitment persists, purposefully increasing commercial landings is not rationale and the Board should oppose this action.
How to Comment: Register for the webinar here.