The 2013 commercial striped bass fishery will open this Sunday, July 14. This year’s quota is 997,869 pounds and commercial fishery limits will remain status quo.
For 2013, the open commercial fishing days are Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Sundays permitted commercial fishermen are authorized to possess and land up 5 striped bass per day, and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays they may possess and land up to 30 striped bass per day. These commercial possession limits apply to any individual fisherman fishing from shore or to any vessel regardless of the number of commercial permit holders on board. All commercial striped bass must be at least 34 inches in total length.
During commercial trips it is unlawful for commercial fishermen to possess or land a recreational bag limit in addition to their commercial catch or to retain any catch at the recreational minimum size of 28 inches. Commercial fishermen engaged in commercial fishing for striped bass may not fish aboard the same vessel at the same time as recreational fishermen. Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays are closed to commercial fishing, but on these days commercial permit holders may fish for striped bass for recreational purposes if they hold a recreational fishing permit.
Commercially harvested striped bass may be sold only to dealers authorized to purchase striped bass from harvesters. All striped bass harvested under the authority of a commercial permit, whether sold or kept for personal use, must be reported to the Division of Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries) on monthly trip-level forms. Failure to submit these reports for all months of the year in a timely manner may result in the non-renewal of commercial permits and permit endorsements in 2014.
MarineFisheries and the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission (MFC) considered amending commercial striped bass limits for 2013. However, discussion was tabled until after the 2013 commercial fishing season when management options could be discussed within the context of the next striped bass stock assessment, due this fall, and a new commercial striped bass tagging program, which will be put into practice in 2014.
By next year, all Atlantic coast states with commercial striped bass fisheries, including Massachusetts, are required to establish and implement a commercial striped bass tagging program. The purpose of this program is to improve accountability of commercially harvested fish and allow fish shipped across state lines in interstate commerce to be identified back to the state of origin. With all states cooperating in this program, there is expected to be a reduction in the illegal harvest and sale of striped bass. MarineFisheries will hold public hearings this fall to discuss the tagging requirement and the implementation of the tagging program. Please look for future notices on this topic.