My Limit is One

The perfect release

The perfect release

An explanation of My Limit is One:

Recreational anglers in Maryland are deeply concerned with the current state of the striped bass population.  In fact, we have been concerned with the fishery for years.  In mid 2013, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission completed the striped bass benchmark stock assessment.  To no one’s surprise, the assessment  showed that the spawning stock biomass (sexually mature female striped bass) was in serious decline.  ASMFC reacted by voting 14 to 2 in favor of harvest cuts in January 2015. You can read a breakdown of striped bass issues here.

In November of 2013, Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced they planned to increase the quota for 2014 by 14%.  While MD DNR contends that science supports this increase, we believe this is a terrible mistake.  Why?  Because the numbers are in and cuts are on the horizon for 2015.  Basically, we are killing fish while we have the chance (before the 2015 cuts are mandated).

Like many of you, we felt nearly helpless in our effort to conserve striped bass.  But are we really?  Recreational anglers have an incredible opportunity to help out in a meaningful way.  We can also send a powerful message to fisheries managers up and down the coast.  We can use voluntary restraint in the fish we harvest and be more selective in our decisions.  What we are asking is this.

My Limit is One

  1. Limit your personal harvest to one fish per day

  2. Do not harvest fish under 24 inches

  3. Do not harvest fish over 36 inches

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind the three suggestions.

  1. More often than not, fisheries science lags woefully behind what anglers are experiencing.  In cases when a species begins to recover, the old creel limits may be restrictive in relation to the growing population.  In cases where species are on the decline,  the exact opposite is the truth.  This is why we are asking recreational anglers to voluntarily accept the challenge  to only keep one fish in 2014.
  2. Stripers become legal size in Maryland at 18 inches and approximately 3 years old.  The abundant 2011 year class of stripers will become legal for harvest in 2014.  This abundance is the primary force behind the decision to raise the quota by 14%.  The graph below shows the spawning success of striped bass since 1956.  From this graph, you will note that we have only had one good spawn from 2008 to 2013.  The horizontal line is the average spawn.  It’s value is 11.7.  Note in 2012 the value was the worst on record.  In fact, many of the year classes will be woefully vacant in the SSB.  The 2011 fish must be protected.  If we voluntarily refuse to harvest this year class, we can make a difference.  This will send a very loud message to our managers that now is the time to conserve not increase harvest.  Please release all fish under 24″.  Do your part.                                                  YOY Striped Bass
  3. Isn’t it time we come to terms with the fact that we should stop harvesting the large breeders for a while?  If that breeding stock (the SSB) is in serious decline, how could it possibly be a good idea to kill them especially on their spawning run?  Fisheries managers will tell you that a dead fish is a dead fish.  It doesn’t matter to them if it is an 18 inch fish caught live lining in June or a 50 incher turning into the Choptank to lay her eggs.    Why take the biggest fish, most fertile females,  and frankly the best genes out of the stock? The time has come for recreational anglers to stand up for the fish.  Please release all stripers over 36 inches in 2014.  They are in trouble and need our help.

Recreational angers have repeatedly taken stands to preserve what they love.  It is time to do it again.  We ask you to voluntarily restrict your harvest of striped bass in 2014 with the hopes that ASMFC will mandate meaningful and appropriate cuts in 2015.  Until then, it is on our shoulders to help the striped bass one fisherman at a time.  To keep up to date on My Limit is One, visit our facebook page or check this blog for updates.

 

 

*Please understand this is a voluntary effort. If you are a charter captain or guide, we understand that you’re job is to provide your clients a full experience on the Bay while adhering to the existing fisheries regulations. This effort is for recreational fishermen.   Anyone else interested in joining is welcome but should not feel pressured to do so.

 

Comments (11)

  1. john russell

    I’m 100% behind this, keep up the great work.

    • Jack Detweiler

      I am 100% behind this proposal. I have actually only harvested “1″ Striper in the last two years. It was 23″, but I did catch some larger ones and if I keep anything again, I will make sure it is at least 24″ and probably not any larger than 26″ to 28″. Additionally, I am not going to do catch and release of the smaller fish in the hot summer weather. I would hope that MSSA would stop their big fish kill tournaments

  2. John Veil

    Tony -

    CCA’s intention with this initiative is admirable. I harvest very few fish each year already (fewer than 10 striped bass from 18″ to 28″ in 2013). I understand the concept of taking just 1 fish per day as a philosophical shift for those anglers who routinely take two fish per trip. However,I suspect it is symbolic rather than biologically valid. To me the key point is the number of fish removed from the population each year. Whether I take 1/day on 20 trips or 2/day on 10 trips, the total number of fish harvested is the same.

    The item that concerns me more is the recommendation to take no fish less than 24″. I don’t understand the biological implications of taking a 24″ fish on one trip and a 28″ fish on the next trip vs. taking 21″ fish on two successive trips. It seems to me that the older and larger fish are more effective reproducers and should be preferentially left in the breeding pool.

    I do not see anything on the website that gives a scientific explanation for the 24″ minimum. Saying that the measure protects the 2011 year class is questionable. From a population biology perspective, removing a 20″ fish from one year class is no worse than removing a 26″ fish from an earlier year class. In fact, it may be a less detrimental effort.

    I hope that you can provide more scientific clarification for the new program to provide a stronger foundation for what is intended to be a good conservation effort.

    • Mike Brupbacher

      First of all I just want to say that I think this a great initiative and I will be following the recommendations stated above for my 2014 season.

      In regards to the comments John made above I have a few remarks. If for now we ignore the size of harvested fish and focus on the total # of fish harvested/year/angler from the population as John suggested, I think it is clear that a pledge of 1 fish/day/angler would lead to a reduction in the total # of fish harvested/year/angler given the catch rates and total # of trips/angler/year remain constant. To suggest that the same conservation minded angler who voluntarily reduces his/her catch limit from 2 fish/day/angler to 1 fish per/day/angler would simply double the number of trips/year in order to account for a voluntary catch limit reduction seems counter-intuitive to me.

      In terms of the pledge to release fish under 24″, I think the point is that due to the strong 2011 striped bass index (SBI) the 2014 striped bass population size distribution is weighed heavily in favor of fish approx. 18-24″ in size. That being said, the probability of catching a fish in the 18-24″ range is higher than that of catching a fish 26″ in size. If we pledge to protect these 18-24″ size fish there would be an overall reduction in the total # of fish harvested/year/angler as they are most probable to be caught.

      Tight Lines!

  3. Gary Marine

    I am on board with this effort. Network out to all your fishing buddies…I have already started…Hopefully it will make a difference.

  4. Mike Dunlap "Chesapeake TJAM"

    Spread the word and lets make the fish first in 2014! Great job on this guys.
    Mike

  5. Brian Pelisek

    I’m all for it.
    We should also boycott the purchase of stripers in restaurants and seafood markets. Take away the demand!

  6. Al Torney

    John as always in these discussions brings up some interesting points.

    Like John I release almost all of the fish I catch as I don’t like most fish I catch. I just like to catch them. However I think that this is a good step. It certainly can’t hurt.

    You should notify Chris Dollar at The Evening Capital in Annapolis to put it in his column. Maybe post bullitens in tackle shops and have flyers at all of the upcoming fishing flea markets.

  7. David Nyberg

    I agree with your effort 100%. It is truly amazing what these people come up with. I like eating stripers, but I won’t be eating them this year.

  8. John Dillon

    I stand by the pledge too. I joined CCA this year. A friend of mine in NH told me it was tough for him to find stripers this year. I told him I found it tough for me to find them in the Chesapeake this year.

  9. Bido

    This is a great idea. I practice 100% catch and release for striped bass but a limit of one should be considered by all anglers who like to keep fish for the table up and down the east coast. I believe charter captains should encourage their customers to only keep one also. If people are educated regarding the status of striped bass they would likely agree to keep one also.

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