As the results from the this year’s Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby showed, striper populations are not as healthy as some would have us believe. The total number of striped bass entered in the Derby was 384 fish—the lowest number since bass were reintroduced to the Derby in 1997 and eight fish less than the previous low set in 2008. But the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is about to vote on a proposal to increase the number of bass commercial fishermen can harvest. The conservation organization Stripers Forever sent out this call to action:
We have prepared a letter for you below to e-mail to Ken Salazar, the United States Secretary of the Interior, with a copy to Mr. Laney. We need to send a lot e-mails to these people to let them know how important this is to us, and that we are watching! Your sentiments will definitely count. Please, send your letter and do your part to keep this proposed 20 to 50% increase in the commercial quota from taking place.
The letter follows immediately below. Please copy, paste, and send it right away!
Send the letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org
and copy to: email@example.com
To: Ken Salazar, United States Secretary of the Interior
From: (Your Name and Address go here)
Dear Secretary Salazar:
I am a resident of (your town and state go here), and I am writing to ask that you direct Wilson Laney, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative on the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission, to vote against the proposed increase in the commercial striped bass quota.~ Here are the reasons why:
The recently released young of the year index from Chesapeake Bay shows that the decline in spawning success that began in the early 2000s is continuing. The average for the last five years is 6.8 compared to 22.09 for the previous 5 years and 22.38 for the 5 years beginning in 1996. This alarming downward trend indicates there will be many fewer adult striped bass in the population in the coming years.
The claimed decrease in the commercial catch of striped bass is simply not true.~ Commercial quotas have been caught annually and have not decreased.~
The given commercial catch numbers do not include the well-documented illegal harvest of stripers along the Atlantic coast.~ Even a modest estimate of the illegal harvest would materially revise the commercial catch upward.
The total recreational catch of striped bass – numbers of fish caught and released as well as those kept or harvested – dropped by more than 50% between 2003 and 2009 while the commercial catch was essentially unchanged.~
It is never a surprise when some commercial striped bass fishing advocates attempt to increase their catch beyond responsible levels; it has happened time and again in the history of commercial fishery management, in species after species. After a near total collapse in the striped bass population during the 1980’s due to overfishing, a moratorium on most harvesting of this species caused stripers’ numbers to recover rapidly. Now it seems that we have forgotten the lesson we should have learned.
I expect USF&W to be a strong voice for conservation, not for exploitation. This is not a time to increase the harvest of striped bass, commercially or recreationally.~ Even NMFS has voted against this commercial increase. Fishing mortality should be cut back and not expanded. When you consider that the average recreational fisherman on the East Coast was responsible for harvesting less than a single fish for the entire season, it is clear that the commercial catch should be decreased, not increased.~Please direct Wilson Laney to vote accordingly.
(My name and address)
Copy to Wilson Laney
—— End of Forwarded Message