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DNREC emergency order reduces striper sport fishing possession limit to one fish

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Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) decided to put tighter restrictions on recreational striped bass fishing than commercial this season. 

The Atlantic States Fisheries Commission (ASFC) is calling for an 18% reduction in Striped Bass removals across the Atlantic Coast relative to the 2017 catch. 

DNREC developed two plans meant to reach that goal in Delaware. The first reduces sport fishing for striped bass by more than 20% and commercial fishing by just under 2%. The second reduces both by roughly 18%. 

DNREC chose the first option, applying further limitations to recreational fishing. 

Steven Smith owns Smith Bait and Tackle in Leipsic. He says fisherman have been expecting new limits for a while. 

“Everybody knew it was coming. They’ve been saying it’s been overfished for the last few years,” said Smith. “As it comes to Delaware, I don’t think Delaware is in the big scheme of everything. We don’t take a lot of fish from the whole market. But, you know, it’s just conservation so we can sustain the species.”   

The new regulations come in an emergency order signed by DNREC Sec. Sean Garvin. DNREC says an emergency order was necessary because there is “insufficient time for Delaware to adopt regulations through the standard regulatory process.”     

Under the new regulations, the state is dropping the recreational possession limit for striped bass from two to one fish. The size minimum is still 28 inches, but the legal size maximum has been reduced from 38 to 35 inches—except in the Delaware Bay and Delaware River. 

Smith says the new rules may have a small effect on his business. 

“It’s probably going to cut down on the sale of bunker or menhaden, you know, different baits for striped bass,” said Smith. “But we do have the summer season, so that helps out a little bit. I’m not going to complain about it as long as we’ve got that little season going.”        

The commercial catch quota for striped bass has been lessened 142,474 pounds for the upcoming season. Under DNREC other plan option that amount would’ve been 118,969.       

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