Conservation News, August 1999

By Alan J Evelyn, Conservation Chair

DEC Directs Hudson River Estuary Commission to Examine Striped Bass Question

On July 13, the first in a series of Hudson River Estuary Commission meetings was held, to determine whether a commercial striped bass fishery should be permitted on the Hudson.

The three scheduled meetings are being convened at the request of Governor Pataki, as relayed through Gerald Barnhart, the DEC’s director of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources. Meeting attendees are asked to consider a number of questions, the first of which is “Should a commercial striped bass fishery be opened on the Hudson River?” Participants are then asked whether the fishery should be a “bycatch” fishery attached to the shad gill net fishery, or a directed fishery with a shad bycatch. Other questions include who should be eligible to participate in the fishery, whether gear other than gill nets should be allowed, what measures will be needed to avoid overharvest, whether allocations should be given to individuals or a quota set for the overall fishery and what other measures are necessary.

In answering the questions, participants in the meetings are asked two assume to “givens”:

  1. That PCB levels will be low enough to permit safe consumption of striped bass and
  2. that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will permit the commercial fishery.

Some recreational fishermen who participated in the July 13 meeting felt that they were playing against a stacked deck. The presentation made by the DEC minimized the affect of the commercial fishery on the Hudson River stock of striped bass, and avoided specific discussion of possible future expansion in harvest, the affects on anglers if overall harvest must be reduced, etc. Discussion of the PCB problem was specifically discounted, even though current health advisories state that women of childbearing age and children age 15 and younger should not eat Hudson stripers, and others should only eat one meal per month, making the sale of such fish without clear health warnings ethically questionable.

The bottom line is that people at the highest level of the Executive branch want to see this fishery opened, and it will be difficult–but NOT impossible–to foil their plans. We Salty Flyrodders need to be ready to voice our opposition and fight to keep the fishery closed to commercial fishing.

Remember, if you want other conservation issues brought to the Salty Flyrodders attention, please talk to me at the monthly meeting or contact me at: home (516) 256-0726, work: (718) 951 6522, work fax: (718) 951-4744 or by email: aevelyn@brooklyn.cuny.edu.

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