BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Commercial watermen use gill nets to catch rockfish or striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay, while recreational fishermen use rods, reels, and hooks.

That doesn’t happen just in Maryland, but all along the east coast.

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According to fisheries expert Allison Colden with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the number of large spawning fish have declined over the last decade.

“In terms of numbers, what we’ve seen is the number of large spawning females, the spawning stock of the biomass, has been on the decline over the past 10 years,” she said.

Maryland conducts a yearly survey of those spawning females because the Chesapeake Bay is center for rockfish reproduction on the Atlantic coast.

Surveys of young fish are also done.

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Combined with other state and federal studies, a population assessment is made.

“[The study] is showing not great news,” Colden said. “According to the assessment, the Atlantic stock is considered overfished.”

There are proposals to deal with the declining numbers. Those proposals include raising the size limits for smaller rockfish and reducing the size for large fish.

The fishing season might also be reduced, but it will take time according to Colden.

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“A final decision would probably be made in the fall to impact the 2020 fishing season,” Colden said.