To the Editor:
The following letter was also sent to the state Division of Marine Fisheries about proposed striped bass regulations.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on CMR 6.07. My name is W. Brice Contessa. I am a year-round resident of Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, a USCG licensed captain, and an avid angler.
I would like to raise my concerns regarding CMR 6.07, which as you know would increase the length and days per week of the commercial striped bass fishing season here in Massachusetts. Frankly, Director McKiernan, this is the last thing that Massachusetts needs at the moment. As I’m sure you know, the ASMFC has recently declared the striped bass stock overfished and acquiesced to the fact the overfishing is actively occurring. To increase extractions from Massachusetts state waters at this crucial juncture in the history of striped bass management would be shortsighted and reckless. The failure of the commercial fleet to fill the allotted quota over the course of recent years is not a factor of an overly restrictive state management strategy but rather due to the decrease in biomass coastwide. Simply put, there are not enough striped bass left in state waters to support Massachusetts’s nearly three-quarters of a million pound quota.
To be clear, I’m not an advocate of a 10-year moratorium, outright commercial fishing ban, or gamefish status. Personally, I have not killed a striped bass intentionally since 2013. I do, however, believe that with a refined administrative approach that promotes abundance rather than maximum possible extractions, we can have a fishery that serves the interests of recreational, commercial, and charter fisherman.
I am well aware of the hardships imposed on Massachusetts commercial fishermen and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic — I make my living in the restaurant industry, which has been hit as hard as any. The countermeasure to this calamity should not be killing more stripers.