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CCA Maryland Supports Increase on Striper Limit

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While supporting a change in the harvest limit of striped bass in order to rebuild the fishery's stock, the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland (CCA MD) has urged that specific steps be taken in the trophy season to protect the large spawning fish.

By changing the limit to two fish at 20 inches or more for the May 16 to Dec. 15 season, Maryland anglers should be able to take home some fish at the end of their trip but still fall with the requirements of a reduction of fishing mortality, " CCA MD indicated in comments made to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "In general, CCA Maryland members accept these regulations as a necessary step to rebuild striped bass stocks, and (they) do support them. "

(DNR is required to develop a plan that will reduce striped bass mortality for the 2015 season based on actions taken this fall by the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission, which manages stripers.)

"The trophy season is one that causes concern for a number of conservation minded anglers in Maryland, especially given the fragile state of the spawning stock biomass and recent lack of spawning success, " CCA MD commented. "Striped bass typically complete spawning by the time the waters reach 65 degrees. The trophy season, which is typically opens April 20, is in the midst of this spawning activity.

"The trophy season is of economic importance to the state, but it is striking a balance between striped bass biology, best use of the public resource, and economic gain that we should consider when setting seasons and regulations in Maryland. The earlier the start date of the trophy season, the more large pre-spawn females we kill and the more damage is done to the stock. "

CCA MD understands that increasing the size limit from 28 inches to 36 inches will decrease the number of keeper size fish anglers encounter, and, therefore, reduce the fishing mortality.

CCA MD suggested looking into the possibility of enacting a slot limit during the trophy season of approximately 28-36 inches and pointed out the conservation and health advantages of protecting the larger fish.

"It is widely noted that the older and larger the striped bass, the better at spawning it becomes. It is also noted that older and larger fish contain elevated levels of toxins that are harmful to those who eat the meat. "