Update from Stripers Forever

HARVESTING PETITION UPDATE/ REPORT On April 4th in Lincoln, MA the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission (MMFAC) met to discuss many issues. There was a good showing of Stripers Forever members and we thank them for being there. Included on the meeting agenda was the Stripers Forever petition asking for a 50% reduction in both the commercial and recreational striped bass harvest. Based on the amount of time and the tenor of the discussions there is no doubt that Stripers Forever MA is being taken seriously as a viable “player” when it comes to wild striped bass. We are disappointed but not surprised to report that the decision of the MMFAC was to maintain the status quo for 2013 with regards to all striped bass rules, harvesting regulations and seasons. HOWEVER, the general agreement was that there would be a lot of changes coming “soon” regarding the regulating of the wild striped bass fishery. Many of these changes could take place as soon as 2014 yet some may get delayed into the 2015 fishing year. In discussing the health of the striper fishery Paul Diodati, the Director of the MA Division of Marine Fisheries stated, “The benchmark assessment (of wild striped bass) that will be done by the middle of May will probably drive us toward implementing threshold measures (mandated harvesting reductions, ed).” We see this as a clear admission by the MDMF that the fishery is on the down-turn and in trouble. As further evidence and for emphasis Director Diodati also stated that, “I can see that there is going to have to be a harvesting cut in the future.” Sadly, even knowing this, Diodati still recommended, and the Commission members agreed, that no immediate action be taken to reduce the 2013 wild striped bass harvest. This is clear evidence that the over-all regulatory parameters of this fishery need to be redefined by the Legislature. Stripers Forever has gone on record, thanks to all of you who signed this petition, as advocating for conservation measures to be put in place sooner rather than later. The Commission, whose members almost all come from or represent the commercial fisheries sector, have again proven by their inaction that maximum harvest has a higher value and importance than does maintaining a healthy stock. There are two egregious aspects to this regulatory reality. One is that the viability of a species suffers when the foxes run the chicken coop and that, two, regulating and prioritizing a species for its lower value (as a commercial species) and ignoring its greater value potential (as a recreational only species) is a direct affront to every tax paying citizen of the Commonwealth. Sadly this continues to happen with impunity and without remorse or conscience. Stripers Forever, with your continuing help, will continue to fight for the conservation and welfare of wild striped bass and will aggressively push to have them managed for their greatest value to everyone. Dean Clark