Update on striped bass slot limit from the Smith Policy Group
This week NCGASA leadership and our lobbyist held another update meeting with CDFW on the topic of a striped bass slot limit. Recall that NCGASA and several partners have proposed a slot limit to protect female fecundity and improve the overall health of the striped bass fishery. Prior to this meeting the Department presented us with some preliminary feedback from a striped bass survey that they have started undertaking, along with some perspectives on the longer term health of the striped bass fishery. The Department contends that the most significant declines of striped bass populations occurred several decades ago, and that they have been relatively consistent since then. They acknowledge that there are many stressors on the fishery, but do not have an informed opinion yet if recreational harvest is one of them. It was an informative dialogue. Initial assessment by the Department is that they may not support the higher end of the slot limit, their contention being that those 30+ inch females are not the driving factor in species health and wellbeing. Further, they are very sensitive to the needs of recreational anglers, including subsistence anglers who rely on fishing to supplement their diets. On these and other topics we say it’s hard to tell. The Department does NO science or management of striped bass whatsoever, the latest data sets are generations old and out of date. They have no idea what the actual fisher population is, among numerous other factors.
Further, they plan to rely heavily on in the field contacts of recreational anglers to inform their position further, and they plan to continue this survey (underway now for the past 3 months) for at least 1-2 more years. If you are contacted by the Department, we encourage you to voice your concern about the long term need to keep striped bass a strong, healthy, and viable recreational fishery. This fishery is the last stronghold in the Sacramento Valley, and without due diligence and care it too will eventually end up as all other managed species have to date … diminished, listed, and largely off limits to anglers. The NCGASA Board of Directors has no faith, that in the inevitable and exhaustive quest for more water exports, the unrelenting pressures of drought and changing climate and hydrology, that any of fisheries are going to naturally get better with time. It will only be through careful planning and strategies that we maximize outcomes to maintain and protect our fishery, so that it exists today and future generations to enjoy.
Smith Policy Group
1001 K Street, 6th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814