Submitted by Ted Williams on Wed, 02/14/2007 - 08:42.
Stripers Forever - as many of you may know MD has gone far beyond its allotted catch target in the springtime "trophy" fishery. Opinions about this fishery are diverse, to say the least. It is a fact, however, that springtime presents the only opportunity for many Chesapeake Bay anglers to take a large fish. The growing popularity of this seasonal fishery has contributed to the growth of a large and very valuable guiding and tackle business.. MD has looked for ways to continue this fishery without resorting to paying back past excess catches, perhaps by setting a greatly shortened season or by going to a totally catch and release fishery. There is nothing wrong with a catch and release policy if absolutely necessary, but to force the public to release their catch so that a commercial fisherman can catch and sell fish is an absurd public policy. An accommodation has been reached for the 2007 season, but, at best, it's an uncertain future, and a likely increase in the minimum size limit will concentrate even more pressure on the largest breeders, the very fish that scientists consider to be the most valuable. Stripers Forever believes that the best way to deal with this popular fishery is to reduce the commercial quota by enough to allow the spring trophy fishery to continue without crippling restrictions. The economic arguments are quite convincing: According to the MD Southwick Study, stripers taken recreationally in MD are worth far more per pound than those harvested commercially. Also, jobs produced by the recreational sector dwarf those of the commercial. Hundreds of thousands of Marylanders and visitors enjoy the recreational fishery versus a very few who benefit from the commercial one. Stripers Forever's position is that all commercial striped bass fishing should be ended, in MD and everywhere along the coast this popular fish is found. The trophy fish quota transfer would be a step in the right direction. The board of SF sent a letter to Governor O'Malley, Secretary Griffin, and Director King urging consideration of this suggestion. We've posted a copy of the letter under Recent News on the right side of our website home page www.stripersforever.org. Please take a moment to read the letter; we encourage you to send a similar message or your own sentiments - by postal or e-mail - to these MD officials. You can find contact information for them at this link http://www.stripersforever.org/Info/Stripers_MD/in... also on the home page of our website. Brad Burns SF