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Move to 19-Inch Rockfish Comes After Robust Stakeholder Input; Maintains Conservation Levels

Photo of striped bass

TheMaryland Department of Natural Resourcesis moving forward withemergency regulationsthat will reduce the minimum size of striped bass for charter boat and recreational anglers in the summer and fall fishery in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries from 20 to 19 inches.

This action comes after the state’s proposal was approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in February 2018.

“Following a series of robust conversations and discussions with anglers, charter boat captains, conservationists and other stakeholders, the department believes that moving to a 19-inch rockfish, with corresponding conservation actions and efforts, will reduce striped bass mortality in the bay and provide additional recreational opportunities for anglers,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “The change will benefit anglers and charter boat captains, and – most importantly – the species, which we are committed to conserving and protecting.”

The emergency regulations have been submitted to the Maryland General Assembly Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review, which has jurisdiction over regulatory changes. The department anticipates approval before the start of the summer fishing season.

The proposal seeks to reduce the minimum size of striped bass from 20 to 19 inches with corresponding changes to bait, gear and season, including the requirements that circle hooks be used when chumming and live-lining, and “J” hooks less than or equal to 1/2-inch gap (#1/0) when fishing with bait.

In anticipation of the proposed changes, the department has began a provocative education and public relations campaign to ensure that anglers, charter boat captains and bait-and-tackle retailers understand the new minimum size and gear requirements so they can properly prepare for the start of the season. TheNatural Resources Policehave also been briefed on the changes so as to provide for a smooth transition.