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Rockfish Decline Continues

The Maryland Department of Natural Resource has issued a public notice and advice on proposed Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commision (ASMFC) regulatory changes to address the continuing decline of the Striped Bass/Rockfish population.

"The proposal calls for the 2020 summer-fall season in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries to be open May 16 through Aug. 15, and Sept. 1 through Dec. 10. Anglers would be able to keep one striped bass per person, per day, with a minimum size of 19 inches. The season would be closed on all other dates. During the closure period from Aug. 16 through Aug. 31, anglers will be prohibited from targeting striped bass, which includes catch-and-release, charter boats and commercial hook-and-line fishing. During a chartered fishing trip, the captain or mate would not be permitted to land or possess striped bass for personal consumption."

For DNR April 8th, 2020 Article Click Here

In 2015 an effort to an effort to protect the population by increasing the minimum size of a keeper fish. This had an opposite effect by increasing the number of dead discard, which are fish that die after being caught and returned to the water due to internal injuries.

In 2018, a change was adopted to decrease the minimum size to 19" and Maryland took unilateral action to require the use of Circle Hooks when chumming and live lining. Circle Hooks reduce the "gut hooking" that leads to discard mortality.

Spring is spawning season for the Rockfish that range from the St. Lawrence River on Canada to the St. Johns River in Florida. The Nanticoke, Choptank and Wicomico are all active spawning grounds during the April May timeframe when the water temperature approaches 60 degrees.

Barge on Nanticoke Hits Spawning Rockfish

Long-time Friends supporter, photographer, and author Doug Stephens recorded this event on Tuesday, April 7. He had just observed a large aggregation of rockfish spawning in the river in front of his house in Sharptown. Shortly after, a tugboat/barge navigated right through them, and this video shows the tragic aftermath. We recognize the importance of commercial ship and barge traffic on the Nanticoke and have posted this to remind us all of the costs. Caution: graphic images.

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