Maryland imposes emergency restrictions on striped bass fishing
In a critical step to protect dwindling striped bass populations, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) submitted emergency regulations approved today by the Maryland General Assembly Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review. These measures, effective immediately, extend closure periods for recreational striped bass fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, signaling a major shift in the state’s approach to fishery management.
New regulations eliminate the Maryland Cup striped season by prohibiting the targeting of striped bass from April 1 to May 15. Additionally, the ban extends through the end of May in the Susquehanna Flats area. This decision underscores the critical status of the Chesapeake Bay as the primary spawning ground for approximately 70% to 90% of the Atlantic Coast striped bass.
The temporary emergency measures, which can last up to 180 days, are part of a broader initiative that includes permanent changes Standard regulatory process in Maryland. These steps come in response to consecutive years of below-average spawning success, with the 2023 Maryland Striped Yearling Index recording a breeding success rate well below the long-term average.
Complementing Maryland’s efforts are coast-wide adjustments by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which on Jan. 25 approved a plan to reduce fishing deaths in 2024. This includes implementing slot and bag limits for recreational and commercial fisheries in the Chesapeake region. Gulf and Ocean, in addition to reducing trade quotas by 7%.
Maryland is also considering further restrictions, such as extending the summer closure for recreational and charter fishing and closing the commercial hook and line season. The state encourages anglers to focus on invasive species such as blue catfish and northern snakehead to promote a healthier ecosystem.
Follows the implementation of these emergency regulations Five years of poor spawning successThis is due to adverse environmental conditions such as warm winters and low water flows. DNR biologists stress the importance of protecting mature striped bass to improve the chances of spawning success under favorable conditions.
The effectiveness of these previous management actions will be evaluated in a comprehensive assessment of the striped bass stock scheduled for release in 2024. This assessment will provide important insights into the population response to concerted conservation efforts across Maryland and other coastal states.
While the state awaits the results of the upcoming stock assessment, these emergency regulations represent a proactive step toward protecting the future of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and beyond. For more information about Maryland state fish and the latest regulations, visit the website DNR striped bass web page.