Lowest class year since the moratorium

Down Year for Striped Bass Reproduction | DNR News

Maryland officials have released information on the 2012 Young of the Year count for striped bass, and it is very bad. This LINK will take you to the full report on the MD DNR website.

MD officials blame the poor results on weather, and they say that there are normal ups and downs in the process. However if you look at the graph that appears in the link, and study the statistics a bit, you will see that spawning success over the last 5 to 10 years is about half of what it was during the 1990s before the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission allowed the commercial catch to return to levels reached prior to the crash of the 70s.

As spawning success declines, we are still fishing at levels assigned back in the 1990s - levels most of us thought were far too high back then. Clearly we have greatly reduced the size of the striped bass spawning stock biomass from levels reached in the early 2000s. The exact relationship between spawning stock biomass - combined weight of all large breeding stripers in the population - and young of the year production is not fully understood, but it is undoubtedly important over a number of seasons.

One thing is clear, and that is that just as the 2003 year class has made up most of our striped bass fishery over the last 6 or 7 years, we have only the 2011 year class to follow that up, which won't be i and legal under current size limits for another 7 years or so. Up until about 2006 we always had a number of good year classes in the pipeline. This is no longer the case.
Whether the striped bass population crashes in the near term or not, it is a safe bet that the current managment philosophy of reducing the commercial and recreational bag limits only when it is already too late will insure that the quality of recreational fishing will suffer.

Brad Burns, President
Stripers Forever