The ASFMC Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board initiated an addendum to address illegal striped bass harvest, following an investigation conducted by the Interstate Watershed Task Force (IWTF).
The IWTF conducted a multi-year, multi-jurisdictional investigation on illegal striped bass harvest within Chesapeake Bay which resulted in over $1.6 million dollars in fines levied against 19 individuals and three corporations for more than one million pounds of illegal striped bass harvested estimated to be worth up to seven million dollars.
The covert investigation determined that some Virginia commercial fishermen were illegally harvesting fish during the Potomac River Fisheries Commission’s closed season, as well as illegally harvesting oversized fish from Virginia waters during the spawning season.
Additionally, some Maryland commercial fishermen were taking advantage of loopholes in the state tagging system to falsely report large numbers of smaller, legal-sized fish, allowing them to obtain more tags and exceed quota limits.
The investigation also found some wholesale dealers were complicit through false recordkeeping, false check-in, and knowingly buying illegal or untagged fish.
The Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board will consider potential management options for inclusion in the Draft Addendum for public comment at the Commission’s Spring Meeting in May.
For more information, please contact Kate Taylor, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.842.0740.