(WPRI) — Rhode Island and Massachusetts are enacting emergency recreational regulations this weekend to protect the striped bass population.
Earlier this year, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) approved a new emergency slot size limit for striped bass of 28 inches to less than 31 inches, with anglers only allowed to keep one fish per day.
The new regulation starts Friday in Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and starts Saturday in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said.
The emergency limit runs through Oct. 28 but could be extended by ASMFC.
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For the past several years, the recreational limit has been 28 inches to less than 35 inches, which has led to higher-than-normal overfishing.
Last year, the recreational harvest of striped bass nearly doubled, according to ASMFC.
“The goal of the emergency action by the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board is to help preserve the 2015 year-class,” said DEM Marine Fisheries Chief Dr. Conor McManus. “With what appears to be poor year-classes in recent years, it is imperative to help preserve the spawning stock as best as possible to rebuild the striped bass population.”
The 2015 year-class — striped bass born in 2015 — is important to the future of Atlantic striped bass, according to ASMFC, because it’s one of the few large year classes that has been produced in the past 20 years.
This level of protection will increase in future years as these striped bass continue to grow.