The fall recreational striped bass season in the Albemarle Sound Management Area will not open in 2022 because a stock assessment update shows further harvest reductions are needed.
The 2021 Fishery Management Plan Review showed extremely low numbers of juvenile striped bass are entering the population (recruitment). This review prompted the Division of Marine Fisheries to update the Albemarle-Roanoke striped bass stock assessment with data through 2021. Despite 2021 harvest reductions, the stock assessment update shows the Albemarle-Roanoke estuarine striped bass stock continues to decline in abundance by continued low recruitment. The stock is still overfished and overfishing is still occurring. Overfished means the population is too small and overfishing means too many fish are removed annually.
Amendment 1 to the Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan requires a reduction in Total Allowable Landings (TAL) to reduce the fishing mortality. The reduced TAL based on the updated stock assessment is 15,726 pounds. This TAL is evenly divided between the commercial and recreational sectors in the Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River Management Areas.
Approximately 35,520 pounds of striped bass were already harvested in 2022 from the Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River Management Area’s prior TAL of 51,216 pounds. Management was successful in limiting harvest to less than the prior TAL; however, with the reduced TAL, additional conservation is needed to avoid further overfishing in the current year.
The Marine Fisheries Commission will continue discussing estuarine striped bass management at its November business meeting. The Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 remains under consideration by the Commission.
More information on estuarine striped bass is available on the Fishery Management Plan website.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.