The number of young striped bass in Maryland waters in 2010 was below average for the third straight year, while in Virginia the amount of young striped bass was once again above average, according to juvenile striped bass surveys by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).
In Maryland, samplers collected an average of 5.6 young striped bass per haul, below the long-term average of 11.6 fish per haul. This is the third consecutive year of below average striped bass production in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay.
In Virginia, nine fish were collected per haul, compared with the historic average of 7.5 fish per haul. Striped bass stocks in Virginia have exhibited average or above average recruitment since 2003.
Each summer, biologists monitor how successful striped bass reproduction was the previous spring by collecting fish samples from major striped bass spawning areas. In Maryland, biologists sample 22 survey sites on the Choptank, Potomac and Nanticoke rivers and in the upper Chesapeake Bay, while in Virginia, biologists sample at 18 stations on the York, James and Rappahannock rivers.
To sample an area, biologists deploy a 100-foot-long seine net from the shore and count all of the fish species collected in the net. The number of striped bass collected at these sites provides an estimate of how successful striped bass spawning was during the current year. This is important because as much as 90 percent of the Atlantic striped bass population may use the Chesapeake Bay as a spawning and nursery area.
Biologists with Maryland DNR say it is normal for the success of annual spawning to vary because striped bass reproduction is influenced by water temperature, winter snowfall, spring flow rates, weather conditions and many other factors.
Despite state-by-state variations, the striped bass population remains above the management action trigger set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). Likewise, the number of adults in the Atlantic coast population and levels of fishing are well within healthy limits as set by the ASMFC.