The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced Tuesday, June 20 that it has officially adopted new emergency regulations for recreational Atlantic striped bass fishing, after an extremely successful 2022 striped bass fishing season depleted the species’ breeding population.
Effective immediately, the DEC will implement a new recreational slot limit of 28 to 31 inches (only fish between those sizes are keepers). This limit has been required by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. It formerly was between 28 and 35 inches.
The recreational slot limit in the Hudson River, north of the George Washington Bridge, remains 18 to 28 inches.
On May 2, 2023, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board approved an emergency action to implement a 31-inch maximum size limit for the striped bass recreational fishery for 2023. That action lasts for 180 days, through Oct. 28, 2023.
According to ASMFC’s Striped Bass Management Board, “this action responds to the unprecedented magnitude of 2022 recreational harvest, which is nearly double that of 2021, and new stock rebuilding projections, which estimate the probability of the spawning stock rebuilding to its biomass target by 2029 drops from 97 percent under the lower 2021 fishing mortality rate to less than 15 percent if the higher 2022 fishing mortality rate continues each year.”
“Based on concern for the stock and the long-term interests of its stakeholders, the Board acted decisively to protect one of the few remaining strong year classes,” said Board Chair Marty Gary, who is with the Potomac River Fisheries Commission. “Striped bass is one of the flagship species of the Commission, and this action sends a strong signal that the Board is firmly committed to rebuilding the stock for current and future generations. At the same time, the Board recognizes that this action will have a profound impact on the for-hire industry and recreational anglers, however, it feels it is a necessary step to ensure rebuilding.”
The Commission took this action “in response to the large increase in recreational harvest of striped bass in 2022, and repeated years of poor reproductive success,” according to the DEC. “The new slot limit is intended to protect a large proportion of the remaining adults to allow them to contribute to future spawning and stock rebuilding. ASMFC will continue to monitor harvest and success of spawning stock rebuilding, and if it deems necessary, may extend the emergency action for two additional periods of up to one year each.”
According to the DEC, if New York failed to implement the new slot limit, “it would place the state out of compliance with ASMFC requirements and could result in the closure of New York’s recreational and commercial striped bass fisheries. DEC continues to advocate for New York’s marine resources and fishing community by participating in all levels of marine fisheries management to help ensure abundant and sustainable recreational and commercial fishing opportunities.”
The DEC’s Environmental Conservation Police Officers, known as ECOs, respond to complaints of taking of oversize fish, including on June 6 at the east side of the Shinnecock Inlet, where they issued several tickets to some members of a large group of fishermen who had three fish over the then-legal limit of 35 inches. That limit has since been reduced to 31 inches. The ECOs also issued tickets to members of the group for fishing without licenses.
Annual no-fee Recreational Marine Fishing Registry licenses are required before fishing New York’s Marine and Coastal District waters or when fishing in the Hudson River and its tributaries for “migratory fish of the sea.”
The complete text of the state rulemaking is available on the DEC website. The agency is accepting comments on the regulations from July 6, through Sept. 5, 2023. Written comments can be sent by mail to Caitlin Craig, New York State DEC, 123 Kings Park Blvd., Kings Park, NY 11754, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In March 2023, the DEC also prohibited the use or attempted use of gaffs when recreationally fishing for Atlantic striped bass. DEC has also required the use of circle hooks when fishing with bait for striped bass since 2021. These regulations intend to reduce release mortality in recreational striped bass fisheries, as required by ASMFC Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. The DEC encourages all recreational anglers to carefully handle and safely release fish not being kept.