ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Two reports, one from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and another from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, show a drastic reduction in numbers of Atlantic striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay.

The surveys measure the number of young striped bass in the bay. The Chesapeake is a primary spawning ground and nursery for Atlantic striped bass. The number of juveniles is an indicator of future striper numbers.

New harvest size regulations were already in place by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) following reports last year and early this year that striped bass stocks were falling.

That regulation which prohibits the harvest of fish 31 inches long or greater was set to protect fish of spawning size. However, a number of poor spawning year classes coupled with an extremely high harvest in 2022 have reduced numbers.

The ASMFC had set a target of restoring striped bass stocks to 1990s levels by 2029. Most indicator used by fisheries managers show that will not happen unless action is taken.

The AFSMFC could take some sort of emergency action in response to the latest data, but it is not clear what that action could be.