The problem with striped bass management


To the Editor:

Recently, the editor of a fishing magazine to which I contribute assigned me the daunting task of summarizing in 130 words or less what I consider to be the biggest problem facing the fishery in my region. I thought it would be appropriate to share my thoughts here as well.

Amongst the numerous significant challenges presently facing our fishery in the Cape and Islands region, the most pressing is the grotesque mismanagement of wild striped bass stocks. Striped bass are a highly migratory species, spending portions of their life-cycle in waters managed by up to 13 different states.

Different states have different regulations governing the harvest of this precious resource. All allow recreational take in some capacity. And some (Massachusetts included) allow commercial harvest as well. The most foreboding threat accosting ‘America’s great game fish’ is the lack of a comprehensive and cohesive coastwide management strategy. Other highly migratory species such as tuna and sharks are managed on the federal level.

Just because stripers spend their days swimming inside of an arbitrary line on a chart doesn’t mean they should be supervised differently than other fish that behave in the same fashion.

W. Brice Contessa