Interesting read. I'm not sure the reduction in stripers (which happened up and down the coast) has anything to do with commercial squid fishing in MV, exactly. However, I recall from my childhood that you could go down to GI and fill a 5-gal. bucket per hour. The woman across the street from me used to fill 3 buckets per night. She would also haul in buckets of tinker mackerel, which have been mostly gone for decades. As the season rolled on, she would bring home buckets of snapper blues, which used to load into Newport harbor all summer. And, of course, the herring runs and the eel runs are mostly gone too. So we used to have tons of bait around for 12 months of the year and now we have less bait for a shorter period of time. So it's possible that a general reduction of bait has caused some localized depletion of stripers. That said, of bigger concern is that this same type of scenario is happing in the Chesapeake, Delaware, and Hudson River areas where the stripers spawn and spend their first year or two of life. So they have reduced quantity and quality of food, thereby increasing fish mortality in the 0-3 year range.
We are rather radical on this subject. Eventually, all commercial fishing will have to end just as market waterfowl shooting did almost 100 years ago. Any seafood found in stores will be aqua-cultured. A recreationally caught fish is much more valuable to the economy than the same fish caught in a net. A number of years ago, I was involved in a study in Alaska on king salmon. We found that a single fish perhaps worth $100 to commercial interests, was worth $5000 to the Alaska economy when caught by an angler.
That said, it is a ways off. Probably not in our personal lifetimes. Humans have a habit of waiting until it is too late. Look at the American shad fishery around Chesapeake Bay. They waited until the population was 1% of its original number before a ban was put in place. The shad never came back. The same almost happened with striped bass. Retention was stopped when the numbers were between 10-15%. And they did make a comeback. Who knows what would have happened if they waited longer: Perhaps the unthinkable, no stripers.
While a complete ban on commercial fishing will not happen soon, perhaps stricter regs, especially on commercials will help. We traveled Iceland and Norway and they did quite well with their cod fisheries when compared to N. America. The answer was very strict regs and good enforcement.
We do not pretend to have all the answers but greater restrictions on the commercial MV squid fishery certainly would not hurt and would probably help larger predators like stripers. And certainly make for larger runs for the casual squidder.
Martin and Ruta
Outdoor writing: Subsistence living, living off the grid, foraging wild plants, mushrooming, prospecting, hunting and fishing.