By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—They may be plentiful here, but fewer striped bass along the Atlantic Coast is bringing orders to reduce the catch everywhere.

Alex DeMetrick reports that means more of Maryland’s official state fish is off limits.

The Chesapeake Bay is the major East Coast breeding ground for striped bass.

Latest surveys show their reproductive numbers are doing well in bay, but more would be better.

“There’s a strong stakeholder preference to manage the resource at a much higher level of abundance,” said Thomas O’Connell, DNR Fisheries.

That preference started surfacing last May at the Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission, which sets fishing limits.

“Up in New England they see fewer and fewer fish. So we’ve had a decline in the stock for the last 10 years now,” said Bill Goldsborough, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

And to boost it back, the commission is reducing the number of striped bass that can be caught.

“For the coastal fisheries you’re looking at a 25 percent reduction and a 20.5 percent for Chesapeake Bay fisheries,” O’Connell said.

But even though the catch reduction isn’t as severe in the bay, it still has an impact.

For recreational and sport fishermen, it will mean the legal size to keep a fish will increase, leaving more small fish to grow and make their way out of the bay into ocean populations.

But the biggest dollar loss will be felt by commercial watermen.

“It’s going to be a pretty significant hit for the commercial guys. Twenty percent, you’re talking about several hundred thousand pounds,” O’Connell said.

That’s fish that will go unharvested and unsold.

There is no set time limit on the catch reductions, although it’s expected to last at least three years.

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