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Friday, August 21, 2009

ASMFC Striped Bass Board Approves Draft Addendum II for Public Comment

ASMFC Striped Bass Board Approves Draft Addendum II for Public Comment

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board has approved for public comment Draft Addendum II to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. The Draft Addendum proposes to allow unused coastal commercial quota of striped bass to be rolled over from one year to the next. Options include state eligibility and the amount of unused quota that may be carried over. The Draft Addendum also outlines procedures for implementing and monitoring quota roll over. Under the Draft Addendum, roll over would be prohibited if the fishing mortality rate exceeds the Plan's target or if the spawning stock biomass is below the Plan's target.

The existing management program addresses coastal commercial quota overages, requiring payback of an overage in the subsequent year, yet it is silent on coastal commercial quota underages. Since the implementation of Amendment 6, coastal commercial quota underages have been more common than overages. While avoiding a quota overage signifies managerial success, a quota underage represents lost opportunity to commercial harvesters. Quota underages may result from changes in fish abundance or distribution, environmental factors, fishing effort, and regulatory measures.

The Draft Addendum presents a hypothetical situation to analyze the potential effect of allowing roll over. Had all unused coastal commercial quota in 2003 through 2007 been rolled over and then harvested in 2004 through 2008, the average increase in the total coastal commercial quota would have been less than 15 percent and the average increase in the total coastwide harvest less than two percent. An analysis by the Technical Committee indicated that a 15 percent increase in the coastal commercial quotas would have a limited effect on the fishing mortality rate, and that large fluctuations in recreational harvest, which is not regulated by quota, present a greater level of risk of exceeding the fishing mortality target or threshold. However, the Technical Committee also noted that the potential effect of roll over on the stock increases if quota underages occur due to population decline. Other concerns included the two to three year lag in reporting the fishing mortality ra!
te estimate for any given year and that allowing roll over could provide an incentive to under report harvest.

Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on Draft Addendum II, either through attending public hearings or providing written comments (a subsequent press release on scheduled public hearings will be released once the hearings have been finalized). Copies of Draft Addendum II will be available by August 28 and can be obtained by contacting the Commission at (202) 289-6400 or via the Commission's website at www.asmfc.org under Breaking News. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on October 8, 2009 and should be forwarded to Nichola Meserve, FMP Coordinator, 1444 'Eye' Street, NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 289-6051 (FAX) or at comments@asmfc.org (Subject line: Draft Addendum II).