To allow the population of striped bass coastwide to return to healthy levels, Hudson River Circle hookanglers should use circle hooks to ensure that “catch and release” fishing allows more stripers to survive. As part of a coastwide effort to restore striped bass, and under mandate from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed a new requirement for recreational anglers to use circle hooks starting with the 2021 season, which opens on April 1 in the Hudson River, and April 15 in marine waters.
Take Action! Tell DEC you support its proposed circle hook requirement for striped bass fishing.
Atlantic striped bass are one of the most popular gamefish species on the Atlantic coast, and an iconic presence in the Hudson River estuary ecosystem. Protecting striped bass and other signature fish has been a pillar of Riverkeeper’s advocacy for decades — whether it’s stopping Indian Point and other power plants from decimating fish eggs and larvae, fighting for the cleanup of PCBs that contaminate fish or removing dams to restore spawning habitat for herring.
Striped bass had been considered a restoration success story, with their population increasing from historic lows to more healthy levels after regulations reduced overfishing in the 1980s. But the story has changed: striped bass numbers have been experiencing distressing long-term declines coastwide because they are being overfished.
Recreational fishing is responsible for approximately half of all striped bass mortality annually. Roughly 90% of the striped bass caught coastwide are caught by recreational anglers, including 100% of the fish caught on their spawning grounds in the Hudson River Estuary.
The anglers who love catching striped bass also have it in their power to restore them.
One way anglers can help is to use non-offset circle hooks, which cause less injury to striped bass and give them a better chance of surviving after being caught and released. Fish die after being released because of hook related injuries and from the physiological stress of being caught. The risks for striped bass increase in freshwater, and when water temperatures are higher because these warmer waters hold less dissolved oxygen, making it harder for fish to recover. Catch-and-release stress may also prevent successful spawning, which is particularly important in the Hudson River, the second largest spawning area for striped bass on the Atlantic Coast and necessary for recovery of the species.
While anglers release approximately 90 percent of the striped bass they catch, too few of these fish survive. In the Hudson River, switching from J-hooks to circle hooks decreased striped bass catch-and-release mortality from 16 percent to 5 percent.
Importantly, the proposed regulations would apply to a wide range of bait, and also help minimize the loss of striped bass by anglers using J-hooks to catch other species, like bluefish, fluke and weakfish that are also in long-term decline.
While some anglers will bristle at restrictions on fishing, these are necessary to make sure striped bass populations are healthy into the future. Failure to address overfishing could result in even stricter rules.
Take action to require the use of circle hooks and give the striped bass population a fighting chance.
To learn more, read our earlier post on what you need to know about Hudson River striped bass fishing.
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