Striper rules skewed to fishing interests


To the Editor:

An article about the opening of the commercial striper season did not tell the complete story.

Fishery scientists claim that that the larger the female wild striped bass, the more and more viable are the number of eggs. Therefore the larger the fish the greater the number of viable eggs that are being removed from the population. Ninety-nine point nine percent of all wild stripers harvested commercially are females. Because the numbers of bass a fisherman can keep and sell are limited but not the poundage, the goal is to kill the largest of the large.

Five of the last six years have produced below average numbers of young of the year (recruitment), and the one year that showed an increase is now being questioned as being an accurate reading of the true numbers. The overall biomass is down and will most likely reach threshold levels that will trigger mandated harvesting reductions for next year and beyond. These fish are in trouble — again!

Eight of the nine members of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Council have personal, financial interests in commercial fishing. Of the three Massachusetts delegates to the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Council, one is the state representative from Provincetown (a commercial fishing center), and one professionally represents the lobster fishing industry. The third is the director of MDMF.

The structure and makeup of the regulating bodies stacks the odds against ever having wild stripers conserved and protected from over harvesting. The management system is broken. It is skewed to protect commercial exploitation not conservation, and the legislature needs to step in and fix it.

Dean Clark

Marstons Mills