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The debate about how much protection striped bass require is bout to come up again, after the following was passed at the recent ASMFC meeting: ASMFC Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board Initiates Development of Draft Addendum V to Consider Liberalizing Management Measures Alexandra, VA - The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board initiated the development of Draft Addendum V to Amendment 6 to the Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to consider liberalizing coastwide commercial and recreational regulations. The Board's action responds to concerns raised by Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions regarding continued economic hardship endured by its stakeholders since the implementation of Addendum IV and information from the 2016 assessment update indicating fishing mortality is below the target.  Addendum IV, implemented for the 2015 fishing season, required coastwide harvest reductions to reduce fishing mortality (F) to a level at or below the target. Specifically, coastal fisheries implemented measures to reduce harvest by 25% compared to 2013 levels, and Chesapeake Bay fisheries implemented measures to reduce harvest by 20.5% compared to 2012 levels. Additionally, an objective of Addendum IV is to protect the 2011 year class. According to the results of the 2016 stock assessment update, the Atlantic striped bass stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. Furthermore, Addendum IV successfully reduced fishing mortality to a level below the target (F in 2015 is estimated at 0.16), and length-frequency data from the catch in 2015 indicates a strong presence of the 2011 year class which is anticipated to join the coastal spawning population this year. A draft of the addendum will be presented for Board review in May. This move was primarily pushed by commercial fishermen looking for additional quota. It passed by a vote just 8-7. Surprisingly, New Jersey provided the winning vote. Chris Zeman was acting as proxy for Governor's Appointee Tom Fote (who's in Hawaii for the winter), and voted against, but Adam Nowalsky and Tom Baum were in favor. Therefore, N.J. joined the commercial states of N.Y., De., Md., Va., N.C. and, surprisingly, sportfishing Ct. in favor. Yet, the commercial states of R.I. and Ma. were opposed along with sportfishing Ma. and N.H. plus NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. There were hard feelings the last time this was debated between those seeking to keep more stripers and those more concerned with building up the fishery. Stripers Unlimited, the online organization seeking a coastal game designation for striped bass, is opposed to reopening the amendment process.  

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