Exactly what stripers DO NOT need
MASSACHUSETTS STRIPED BASS UPDATE Hope everyone had a wonderful summer. Much has been happening when it comes to regulating your striped bass. This update will briefly cover four recent events worth noting: 1) Spearfishing, 2) MD Juvenile Index, 3) Consumer Health Bill and 4) Menhaden Hearing …… all of which are having a direct impact on your wild striped bass. SPEAR FISHING BILL PASSES 1st READING IN THE MA HOUSE IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED Representative Sarah Peake has again sponsored and successfully engrossed in the House a Bill legalizing the taking of striped bass with a spear gun. (Engrossed means A legislative proposal that has been prepared in a final form for its submission to a vote of the lawmaking body after it has undergone discussion and been approved by the appropriate committees.) Peake has been one of the most vocal opponents of every attempt to conserve wild stripers and together with a small contingent of Cape Cod area legislators continues to sponsor the killing of even more of the prime breeders with this damaging legislation. Stripers Forever does not offer an opinion on whether or not it would be better to harvest a fish by spearing or by hook and line, but spearing eliminates any opportunity to measure a bass before it is killed. Spearing also eliminates the opportunity to catch and release thereby getting maximum enjoyment and economic value from this finite resource. Peake claims that because spearfishing tournaments are being held in other states “…we have money leaving Massachusetts.” But Peake has totally disregarded the millions of dollars lost to MA because of the fish squandered in the state’s commercial striper fishery. It is clear that her only real goal is to give a handful of her constituents what they want from the striper resource regardless of what the consequences may be for other citizens.. Last year our collective lobbying efforts were successful in keeping this bill from final passage, and we hope that will be the case this season too. Here is what you can do to help stop this travesty from taking place:
- Send this note today to your State Senator and to your House representative
“Dear Senator or Representative (so and so): I ask you to vote against H247 or S399, bills to legalize the spearing of striped bass. The striped bass situation is in a state of terrible decline with the worst spawning success ever recorded taking place in 2012 and a recreational catch that has declined some 85% over the last 6 years. Spearing will increase the kill of large striped bass that are valuable as breeders, and spearing does not allow the fisherman to measure their catch before shooting it. Sincerely; (your name and address)”
- If you are so inclined calling your legislators office to express these thoughts can be even more effective.
You can find your state legislators easily at this website: http://www.malegislature.gov/People If you are not a MA resident send your note to the legislator representing the town you fish in or own property in. Let them know that you spend money in MA because of stripers.
2) MARYLAND (AND VIRGINIA) JUVENILE INDEX The Maryland 2012 Young Of the Year (YOY) recruitment or Juvenile Index was the lowest ever recorded in the past 59 years! The long term average Index number is 12. In 4 out of the last 5 years it has been in single digits, way below average. This year it was only 0.9! Scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science also reported a similar drop in YOY recruitment in Virginia’s Chesapeake state waters. Fact: Over 75% of every wild striper in Massachusetts waters was born in the Chesapeake area. This is not good news at all. The truth is that mycobacteriosis is taking its toll on mature fish in the Chesapeake and the overall health of the Bay – the ecosystem - is deteriorating. These negative influences on recruitment, in combination with other environmental factors such as weather should be important management considerations, yet bag limits and commercial quotas have not changed despite the trending decline in the number of young stripers entering the fishery. The unsustainable harvest limits being endorsed by commercial interests bode poorly for the future of wild striped bass. One counter-measure that should be employed to counteract all the negative variables is to better protect wild stripers by granting them game status. 3) CONSUMER HEALTH BILL re. Striped Bass Stripers Forever is actively pushing a Bill that we helped draft that requires a) the testing of wild striped bass for toxic contaminants and b) that public warnings be issued relative to their consumption should cause be found. Based on several academic studies it has been determined that wild striped bass consumption poses a risk to public health, especially to unborn fetuses and children who are still developing neurologically. Massachusetts is the only state on the east coast north of the Carolinas that does not issue either health warnings or consumption advisories about eating wild striped bass due to either or both, heavy metal and/or PCB contamination. We will keep you posted as this Bill makes its way through the legislature and more information becomes available. In the meanwhile, for your own safety and the health of those you care about, please be advised that by the time 75% of all wild stripers reach 28 inches – the legal, recreational minimum length in MA - they have bio-accumulated enough mercury in their edible muscle tissue to have contamination levels that exceed EPA safe consumption thresholds! As they continue to grow they keep bio-accumulating even more mercury which makes wild striped bass purchased by unaware consumers in Massachusetts – the commercial minimum is 34 inches - even more toxic.
4) MENHADEN HEARING At the Menhaden Public Hearing held in Bourne, MA on Oct. 17th Stripers Forever testified in favor of a 50% reduction in the coast-wide Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of Atlantic menhaden in all state waters. We argued for the rebuilding of the biomass to historic levels within five years and to increase the spawning mass threshold (trigger) points. We also lobbied the ASMFC to push for NOAA adoption of these regulations in all federal waters to insure both consistent and effective enforcement and management results. Striped bass need menhaden if they are to thrive. They are the stripers’ primary and preferred forage fish. This is one point that the commercial striper fishermen agree with us on. At the hearing both groups argued in favor of stricter and more conservative regulatory controls….. not for bass, but menhaden. Yes, it was interesting! ****************************** Reminder: please contact your State Rep and Senator now and ask them to vote against the Striped Bass Spear Fishing Bill. Thanks, MA SF Co-Chairs, Fred Jennings and Dean Clark