In response to declining striped bass reproduction, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has proposed emergency regulations to limit fishing during the species’ spawning run next spring. The proposed regulations include the elimination of the state’s two-week “trophy” fishing season in early May, where anglers were allowed to keep one fish measuring 35 inches or more. Additionally, the rule would extend the springtime prohibition on targeting striped bass, even for catch and release, from April 1 through May 15.

The move aims to reduce fishing pressure during the critical spawning period and enhance striped bass reproduction. Maryland’s annual seine survey revealed a concerning decline in juvenile striped bass in the Bay for the fifth consecutive year. The proposed regulations are part of an effort to complement potential actions by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which is considering various curbs on recreational and commercial fishing for striped bass along the East Coast.

While conservationists applaud the decision to end the trophy season, concerns are raised about the impact on fishing-related businesses and the overall recreational fishing industry. The emergency regulations are subject to review by the Maryland General Assembly’s joint committee, and public hearings may be held to gather input. The DNR acknowledges the possibility of further adjustments in the future to protect female striped bass, emphasizing the need for a balance between conservation efforts and supporting the fishing community.

Images/Source: BayJournal