Last year, the state Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) was forced to mandate an 18 per cent reduction in the harvesting of striped bass and bluefish in response to a steep decline of the species in waters along the Eastern seaboard.

On Thursday, officials from the division traveled to the Vineyard to hold a public hearing and announced that the proposed regulations to the recreational fisheries were essentially set in stone, but regulations to the commercial sector were still open for discussion. Effective May 1, a slot limit will be imposed on the recreational taking of striped bass, which requires that any fish measuring less than 28 inches and more than 35 inches be released. A further stipulation will make circle hooks mandatory for fishing with chunk bait. The rules also apply to charter fishermen.

Also effective May 1, recreational fishermen will only be allowed to keep three bluefish per day and charter clients will be able to keep up to five. The state previously had a bag limit of 10 fish per day. There is still no minimum size for keeping bluefish.

Dan McKiernan, acting director of the DMF, said that the regulation is still contingent upon approval from the state fisheries commission, a nine-person board appointed by the governor, but added that he is almost certain they will be approved.

“We tend not to propose things that are unlikely to pass,” Mr. McKiernan said. “There’s nothing in this proposal that is going to catch them by surprise.”

Jonathan Mayhew makes a point at the meeting.

Raymond Kane, one of the nine members on the state fisheries commission, voiced his approval of the new regulation at Thursday’s meeting.

“According to lead scientists, bluefish are being overfished . . . similar to striped bass,” Mr. Kane said. “If we don’t react to overfishing, we are going to be in a bad situation down the road.”

Mr. McKiernan fielded a mixed response from the crowd of about 30 Island fishermen and conservationists gathered at the Tisbury Town Hall. All of the stakeholders who spoke were in favor of increased regulations, at least in some form. But many said they were worried the regulations did not go far enough in protecting the species.

“I don’t see that this is going to result in too much of a reduction,” said Ron Domurat, a recreational fishermen and member of the MV Surfcasters. “In the next stock assessment in two years, we will be right back to the table trying to see what to do next.”

Mr. McKiernan said that a main concern in crafting the regulation was keeping the fishery open to recreational anglers.

“If we wanted to bring the fish back as fast as possible, we would institute a moratorium,” Mr. McKiernan said. “But that’s not what states up and down the East Coast wanted to do . . . there is a desire to allow fishing.”

Some fishermen felt the regulations would not be enough to help the fisheries. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Glenn Pachico, a commercial fisherman on the Island, raised a concern that the regulations were not focusing on the right place to restore the dwindling stocks. He referenced commercial draggers that scoop up schools of striped bass, bluefish and other fish just three-miles off shore.

Mr. McKiernan countered the claim.

“Effort levels of draggers are the lowest they have been because of ground fishing regulations,” he said. “If it ever was a problem, it’s much less of a problem now.” Chilmark selectman Warren Doty raised a concern about the DMF’s proposal to scale back regulations on the menhaden fishery, a forage fish that is a staple of the striped bass diet. Mr. McKiernan said the menhaden stocks have rebounded, and for that reason proposed raising the by catch limit from 1,000 pounds to 6,000 pounds. “If this is a forage fish we are trying

to encourage in our waters, and it is in good shape, why don’t we just let it grow?” Mr. Doty asked. “We are working so hard at preserving fish.”

Mr. McKiernan acknowledged the impact on striped bass, and said it was a matter of ensuring that Massachusetts gets a fair shake in the regional menhaden quota, which would otherwise go elsewhere.

Though regulations to the recreational striped bass and bluefish sector are set, regulations to the commercial sector for almost all other species of fish are still crystallizing. A list of the potential regulations is available on the DMF website. The public comment period will remain open until the end of March.