The state Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has successfully lobbied the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) for more relaxed regulations in the Massachusetts 2018 recreational black sea bass take. On Monday, DMF announced that an appeal filed with ASMFC earlier this year to allow for increased take of the savory fish was approved on May 3.
Per the new regulations, the 2018 season will open on Saturday, May 19, and close on Wednesday, Sept. 12 — 15 days longer than the 2017 recreational black sea bass season. The five-fish possession limit and 15-inch minimum size are unchanged.
The interstate management plan for black sea bass for the ASMFC Northern Region — which ranges from from New York to Massachusetts — required a reduction in regional harvest by nearly 12 percent from 2017, while states farther to the south were afforded liberalizations, according to a DMF press release. The Northern Region states submitted a joint appeal, stating the changes did not consider the rapidly increasing black sea bass population in the region.
The changes will allow the Northern Region to increase its regional harvest by roughly 4 percent. Regulations within the region were negotiated by each state. Massachusetts’ regulations represent a projected 15.5 percent increase in allowed take, up substantially from the original 4.6 percent increase originally established for 2018 before the successful DMF appeal.