Thoughts on making stripers gamefish? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Thoughts on making stripers gamefish?

02-12-2005, 09:05 AM
We discussed this a while back. It's hard not to admire the efforts of Stripers Forever. It's also hard for me to associate cause and effect with all due respect.

Should we make a strong show of support? We have tools to bury public officials in email, direct our buying dollars, put issues into people's minds (4 million hits per month and growing), and contribute to the cause.

What's the general consensus on this?

02-12-2005, 09:34 AM
Maybe folks should have a look?

02-12-2005, 10:12 AM

What are the main implications of this? Positive or negative......... I don't know a great deal on the subject :o

02-12-2005, 10:28 AM
Wouldn't it be nice, but I think that the argument that the stripped bass resource should be reserved only for rec. fishermen is a loser. If this was ever an arguement that conducted in the public forum, lobbyists and PR people representing comercial intrests would have little trouble DESTROYING Stripers Forever's arguments.
It would go something like this:
"Life has always been tough for the fishermen and families living in coastal comunities. They have weathered many a storm, and hardship. The money doesn't come easily, but this is life of their father's, and it is the life that they have chosen for themselves. Hard working and independant, they help to put food on America's tables. Now there is a new threat to their livelyhood. A small group of elite anglers want to exclude the watermen who have traditionally earned a living from the sea to provide healthy food for the public. The fishery is currently being managed as a sustainable resource for all Americans to share and enjoy. Comercial fishermen have always been the first ones to compromise when it comes to the health of the resource, but this is not good enough for this small group of recreational fishermen. They want the whole resource to themselves. This would deny the vast majority of the American public accses to wild striped bass, a healthy, low cholesterol, low fat, high in protean and deliciouse resource. Please call your congress person and tell them to vote NO on the Striped Bass Game Fish Bill."

I would love to see striped bass become a game fish.

02-12-2005, 04:00 PM
I don't think that the problem with the population / quality decline stems from over fishing as much as is does from environmental factors and food supply. While it all sounds like a great idea, protecting the stripers ammounts to messing with mother nature. If you choose one species to protect it may create an imbalance where the population grows and the food supply crashes, well then of course the protected species crashes too. You may get more resistance from commercial squidders than from the group that fishes for Stripped bass for money a few weeks of the year. Honestly the recs could be doing more damage with improper C & R than the commercials do, it's a difficult thing to gather data on.

It's all about balance, I don't have the answer but I know it's a lot more complicated than favoring one species over another.

If you want to worry about something check out the dredge of the hudson river that is right around the corner or the probable repeal of the MA oil spill laws.

02-12-2005, 04:24 PM

I would appreciate information on both of those topics either in a new thread or by PM / email.

To your point, whether stripers become a gamefish or not there needs to be something done about the mortality rate of bad angling practices where the highest numbers (as accurate as they may or may not be) are right here in Massachusetts.

02-13-2005, 08:54 AM
I too am not sure about this. However, let's say it becomes a gamefish , the key to this will be enforcement . I don't think there are the resources to enforce this if it becomes law. Just my .02 FishHawk

02-13-2005, 12:58 PM
Here' s link to the Oil spill law that is being threatened in MA.

Type Hudson River Dedge on any search engine and have a ball.

02-13-2005, 01:25 PM
Jim, et. al. -

The answer on dredging vs current methods seems obvious to me. It's not either or, it's both.

By continuing the bedrock cleanup and employing a dredge operation that is evaluated on 5 year cycles the river cleanup has a good chance of making a difference.

clearwater site (

PS: I catch a lot of stripers with the Hudson river tags in them. If they are traveling up and down the coast, so are the pcbs.

02-14-2005, 09:31 AM
Let me start by saying this is way too complex an issue, (that includes among other variables, economics, biology, state laws and lots of emotion) to be summarized bya few pithy paragraphs....but I can't resist adding some fuel to the fire. That said, gamefish status sounds like a nice idea but will likely do little to help the fish about which we all care so much.

Consider the other competitors out there in addition to the commercial quota, and do some math-- Many, many more fish are killed by 6 packs and recreational guys (who can now keep 2 a day in MA, not to mention those fish that are released only to feed lobsters later).

Six Pack Charters: 6 anglers x two fish per trip x two trips per day x who knows how many 6 pack boats = way more dead bass than the 1.1 million pound quota the commercial guys fill every summer in MA.

Recreational anglers: 2 fish x 30 days (weekends june-september) x god knows how many recreational anglers out there = lots of dead bass.

These are only two examples of other groups, that in addition to the commercial fishermen, have an impact on the fishery. Does this make the commercial quota "ok", or good for the fishery? probably not, but at the very least, the commercial quota has a hard number that is monitered. I kept about 6 fish last summer, and no one knows about them because I am not obligated or required to report them to anyone or anything that is responsible for monitoring the fishery.

Game fish status boils down to a resource grab, that seeks to allow one kind of fishery over another (recs say their pursuit of bass on a fly is more righteous than the meat fisherman who kill 40 a day, while commercial guys claim all the arguments so well put by Eddie above). Furthermore, the resource allocation requested by the gamefish argument doesn't even begin to adress issues like no hard data on the recreational kill, inconsistent regulations between the states, and commerical exploitation of pogies in Chesapeake Bay.

I'm no apologist for commercial bass fisherman, but I can't in good consceince support abolition of the commercial season without hard data on what the recreational kill is.

02-14-2005, 10:17 AM
I have several opinions on this:
1. DEP should monitor the boat ramps better for non-compliance of existing regulations for size and quantity. I've seen more than a few boaters that come in with fish that are too small and/or too many fish.
2. Push the limit on keepers back to 1/day for recreational anglers.
3. Put a maximum size on keeper striped bass (currently only 28 inch min, no max). I think a 24-32 inch size range (just rough numbers) would help sustain the larger fish that are key to the species.

I'm not really big on statistics because they can always be twisted to both points of view if you use them right. I honestly wasn't impressed with the figures Stripers Forever used. They didn't sway me towards their point of view. However, as an angler I was already worried about the state of our striper populations (and other prize fish like tuna, sharks, etc). By the time they really see a problem, it will be too late.

I don't necessarily support making the striper a gamefish, because while I think that would help the issue, I think that it really ignores the current problems. To me it's like saying "There's a lot of boaters polluting the oceans. Let's limit the number of boats allowed on the water." instead of changing the engines so they run cleaner, educating the boaters to pollute less, and policeing the situation better. I think we need to follow this same philosophy with striped bass.

02-14-2005, 01:20 PM
I would add to Oystercatcher's point that I don't trust the #'s provided for the comercial harvest. This is a cash industry that is famous for cheating, bending the rules and exploiting a fishery untill there is nothing left. Then, they cry that the regulators didn't manage the fishery properly. It is hard to be sympathetic.
In North Carolina, people find hundreds of dead stripers at a time. Perhapse a by product of "high grading" where a comercial fisherman catches his limmit and continues to fish, throwing the smaller fish over. I have little sympathy.

Tod D
02-14-2005, 04:03 PM
Warts and all, I’m on the “pro” side of Stripers Forever’s position. I don’t think by itself it’s a panacea, but it beats doing nothing.

The cry of “resource grab” sounds a lot like the arguments supporters of “family farms” use when calling for more federal farm subsidies – which promptly go to the ConAgra’s and Archer Daniels Midlands of the world. Likewise, the argument for a commercial striped bass fishery trots out the MA rod-and-reel fisherman as it’s spokesperson, while big trawlers down south scoop up the motherlode. Re MA “pin hookers”, I am still hard-pressed to to believe anyone can make his annual nut off the relatively restricted MA season...

Anyway, so what if it IS a resource grab. If it is, it is no different from similar ones made for waterfowl, freshwater fish, buffalo, and whales (though I don’t know there was ever a big recreational catch-and-release group there…). This is classic tragedy-of-the-commons stuff, except instead of sheep on the town green, it’s bass in the ocean. No single individual or group has a vested economic interest in ensuring there is something left over for others, and I highly doubt many commercial fisherman stay up late thinking, “Hey, what can I do to ensure there are more fish for everyone else – especially those recreational guys?”

I’m obviously unencumbered by any useful facts, but if the anecdotal spending exploits by the denizens of this board are in any way representative of the larger recreational fishing community, recs are pumping a lot of $$$ into the economy. Never mind gear; how about boats, second homes, trips, classes, charters, books, licenses, fuel, clothing, pogie oil, beer… It has got to dwarf what the commercial striped bass market generates.

Shutting down a fishery obviously puts someone out of work. If that happens, the feds should help the small, hook-and-line comms who are impacted. I suspect the large commercial trawlers will survive just fine.

Obviously, making the fish a game fish does nothing to address recreational behavior. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” But I don’t think the failings on the rec side outweigh or invalidate the need to address the comm. Side. My .02.

02-14-2005, 04:12 PM
Last post on the sub-thread I promise.

Just to clarify my concern on the dredge - digging up all that sediment is going to stir things up and it will quite possibly get much worse before it gets better. I know they say there are all these modern techniques to minimize the sediment that will go into suspension, I just don't buy it.

The big dig wasn't really supposed to leak.

Back to the main topic -

I am for limiting the commercial status to true commercial fisherman, by that I mean those that truely earn a living by harvesting the bounty of the sea. This would eliminate the weekend warriors who kill bass to pay for gas or even cover the cost of the boat over a season. Limiting the harvest to the true commercials might make it easier to get better data on the actual harvest. It would not address the black market for stripers, those that come in the back door of resturants. Sounds laughable but it's true. I have no idea how much impact this has on the population but it's another factor to consider.

I think the folks at stipers forever have good intentions but could easily be classified as fanatics, similar to how we look at PETA. I think it's important the the resource be available to as many groups as possible, by doing so when it comes time to save the stripes there are many voices not just one group. Enforcement of the current laws would be a nice start.

02-15-2005, 06:54 AM
The cry of “resource grab” sounds a lot like the arguments supporters of “family farms” use when calling for more federal farm subsidies – which promptly go to the ConAgra’s and Archer Daniels Midlands of the world.

Sorry to stray from the topic of the thread, but it always bothers me when people are critical of farm subsidies. I wish people could see how hard it is to make a family farm survive. Having grown up on one in the heart of farm country in upstate NY, I know that the subsidies are the only thing that's keeping family farms in business (BARELY) in this country. I know too many old farmers that are broke at retirement (i.e. when they'd so old they just can't physically do it any more) while the middlemen (brokers) are getting rich off their hard work. For instance, when the price of milk goes up in the supermarket, the farmers don't see a penny of that!

Just trying to make sure that people have a better view of the issue. Just like anything, subsidies have their negatives, and those that will take advantage of them. But they are the only thing keeping the small farmer in business today. Well, that and a lot of hard work! :) Back to the thread! :)

Tod D
02-15-2005, 11:55 AM
Scott – no slight intended toward the family farm, or towards individual commercial fishermen. I have relatives who are involved in both and have heard & seen first hand what a hard way both are to make a living. Point was that the image often portrayed by lobbyists – that of the hearty individual farmer, working the land – does not jibe with the reality that big agribusiness is inexorably taking over.

I won’t touch the debate over whether or not the government should subsidize, as that is a third-rail argument for another day… :(

Jim – I generally agree w/ you re commercial fishing, but I think it is too broad a brushstroke that paints both Stripers Forever and PETA as similar. Their shared “values” seem to begin & end w/ the highly caveated contention that commercial anglers should not catch striped bass. As for making the resource available to many, again I pretty much agree except that I am still skeptical that the commercial fishing industry has any incentive to manage things for everyone. I’ll admit, my cynicism probably colors my perception on how nicely rec anglers should continue to play… As usual, you're a voice of reason talking me back from the ledge...

02-15-2005, 12:38 PM
I generally agree w/ you re commercial fishing, but I think it is too broad a brushstroke that paints both Stripers Forever and PETA as similar.

I compare the Stripers forever movement to PETA not for their common goals, but I do categorize both as extreme special interest groups. I think it goes without saying that if I had to pick sides it certainly wouldn't be PETA.

Your point that the stipers forever movement is better than doing nothing has got me thinking. Maybe it's better to go with the best current solution, or vehicle to a better solution than holding out for one that is perfect. I'd still only use it as a means to an end, that end being better management for all groups.

02-15-2005, 03:28 PM
Teflon, the plight of the small family farms sounds remakably similar to that of the small flyshop ;)
I agree with Jim. I think that it would be easy to portray stripers forever as an extriemist group with values out of the main stream. In fact I suspect that more people would sympathise with PETA, than with Stripers Forever. In fact I would bet anything that that is the case.

02-15-2005, 04:49 PM
Several responses back used the excuse" to make stripers a game fish would rob the average non fishing family the chance to enjoy a fresh meal of striper."what percent of commercially caught stripers ever make it to the table?NOT MUCH,their used in cat food ,fertilizer,cattle feed,once a white fleshed fish is ground up you can'nt tell what kind of fish it is.

02-15-2005, 08:02 PM
Stripper, I don't think that anyone is arguing that point. Read the post again.

03-03-2005, 06:57 AM

11-17-2005, 08:15 AM
Comparing SF to PETA is an extreme stretch and an inflammitory tactic do draw an emotional reaction to a scientific topic. We all have strong feelings when a discussion suggests a change in something we all care a great deal about. But lets not resort to Karl Rovian smears and obfuscation and stick to data supported science and economics.

SF isn't talking about strict C&R but about removing wild striped bass from commercial catch and sales. Just removing the opportunity to sell wild caught bass wound elleviate much of the black market as well as the temptation to disregard length and bag limits. This would in itself also eliminate a large part of the enforcement problem . For commercial purposes, the Hybrid farm raised striper is a better market product and doesn't add to the problems seen with inshore salmon farms of waste density loads and escapees dilution of the wild gene pool. Consider the gains made in the south with Gulf Coast Red Fish and Florida Snook. Also there is a lot of data on the higher economic value of sport fishing for stripers over commercial harvest, not just the data contained in the Southwick Study. Much can be extrapolated from data as a result of the status changes of other species of salt water fish. This would be much easier to regulate as stripers are more of an insore species and unlike cod and other groundfish and offshore species more controlled by the transparency and honesty of the industry.

While noone at SF is advocating for or against salt water licenses or a striper tag, these have been shown to be an effective tool in helping fund research to help commercial fishermen as shown by the licensing results from down south. They also have been shown to, when the law is written that the funds be directed only toward research, support ( re ramp improvement and access, etc. ) and enforcement that overall salt water sport fishing is improved. See Ted Williams article discussing the topic in Fly Rod and Reel magaizine, which was very compelling and has other data in regard to the economic value of sport fishing over commercial fishing.