Maryland Striped Bass Survey Below Average for Year 3

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Maryland’s juvenile striped bass survey shows that redfish reproduction is below average for the third year in a row, continuing a worrying trend. Virginia’s survey, meanwhile, shows an average or above average nine-year breeding streak.

Both states are conducting surveys of young striped bass of the year to track the breeding success of the bay’s precious fish. Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports an index of 3.2 in 2021 investigation, which remains well below the long-term average of 11.4.

Graph of comparative historical indices of juvenile striped bass
This DNR chart shows the ups and downs of the annual Youth of the Year survey.

MNR is optimistic, saying in a press release, “The Coastal Striped Bass population has declined in size, but is still able to reproduce under the right environmental conditions. Variable spawning success is a well-known characteristic of the species.

They recognize that below-average numbers “are a concern.” In 2019, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) determined that the striped bass species was overfished and set new limits for east coast states to follow. Yet some environmental groups and even fishermen believe states like Maryland should be doing more.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Maryland, Senior Fisheries Scientist Allison Colden, said in a statement:

“With the third consecutive year of below-average striped bass recruitment, we cannot continue to ignore this troubling trend. Progress must be made to reduce mortality, protect spawning striped bass, and safeguard the above-average 2015 cohort of fish that will soon enter the fishery. We also need to redouble our efforts to prevent pollutants from reaching Chesapeake Bay, which is exacerbating dead spots that are contributing to greater striped bass mortality. “

Crew members PJ LeBel III (L) and Ashleigh Thomas (R) seine juvenile striped bass on the James River.  © J. Buchanan / VIMS.
The VIMS crew seine for juvenile striped bass on the James River. Photo: J. Buchanan / VIMS.

In Maryland and Virginia, biologists use beach seines in the striped bass spawning areas of the bay. In Maryland, these are the Choptank, Nanticoke and Potomac rivers as well as the upper part of the Chesapeake Bay. In Virginia, they are the Rappahannock, James and York river basins. The juvenile-of-the-year index is the average number of juveniles counted per seine tow.

In Virginia, the index was 6.3, similar to the historical average of 7.77. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science, which investigation, indicates that this indicates that the abundance of juvenile rockfish has been relatively stable.

The young of the year 2021 represents the fish that hatched this spring and will reach an exploitable size in three to four years.

Striped bass represent the bay’s most popular and lucrative recreational fishery, and also play an important role as a top predator in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Profession Mary Fabrizio, who leads the VIMS survey, points out that the economic and ecological value of the striped bass gives great interest to the year-over-year condition of its population.

The records were released just days before the CBSA held its fall meeting, and on Wednesday the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board will review possible changes in fisheries management. Bay Bulletin will bring you all the important updates.

-Meg Walburn Viviano


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