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More fishing days added for striped bass fishery

There will be more fishing days and increased retention opportunities for the recreational striped bass fishery in the Maritimes this year.

In recent years, the striped bass population in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence has shown signs of improvement that allow for an increase in fishing days and opportunities to retain fish. As such, compared to 2016 the season started earlier, with the retention period starting April 15 and ending Oct. 31. This year, anglers will be able to retain fish for 200 days, an increase of 95 days compared to the 2016 season. This area includes the tidal waters adjacent to all three Maritime provinces in the southern Gulf.

In addition, the bag limit will be one fish per day from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, and two fish per day from June 15 to Aug. 31. Distinct seasons in inland and tidal waters in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence will be established to prevent the accidental by-catch of other species, such as Atlantic salmon.

Fishing was not permitted in a portion of the northwest Miramichi River for three weeks during the spawning period, approximately from mid-May to mid-June. This is the only confirmed spawning ground for this population of striped bass. DFO fishery officers monitored spawning activity to determine when the closure took place.

This season’s management measures take into consideration input from consultations held in fall 2016 and winter 2017. During that period, DFO met with First Nations, Aboriginal organizations, fishing organizations, provincial departments and held online consultations for the public.

As in the past two years, the maximum fish length is 65 centimeters to protect the larger spawners. A minimum retention length of 50 centimeters aims to minimize the catch of immature fish.

It’s mandatory to use single, non-offset barbless hooks (when using bait) throughout the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. This type of hook decreases the chances of mortality when a fish is returned to the water.

“This season, anglers will be able to fish more days as well as benefit from increased opportunities to retain striped bass in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence,” says Dominic LeBlanc, minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “These increased fishing opportunities are the direct result of management measures introduced since the 1990s to significantly help the long-term recovery of the species and the sustainability of the fishery.”