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Chesapeake Bay News

Oct
17
2012

Striped bass reproduction down in Chesapeake Bay

Striped bass spawning success is at an all-time low in the Chesapeake Bay.

According to data from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the number of juvenile striped bass in the Maryland portion of the Bay fell 97 percent in the last year.

Image courtesy Eddie Welker/Flickr

To track striped bass reproduction rates, biologists take a series of summer seine net samples at more than 20 sites in four striped bass spawning areas. This year, the average number of juvenile striped bass caught in each sample was 0.9. Last year’s juvenile striped bass index was 34.58; the long-term average is 12.

Biologists have blamed unfavorable weather for the decline.

“Generally, warm winters and dry springs are unfavorable conditions for fish that return to freshwater to spawn,” said DNR Striped Bass Survey Project Leader Eric Durrell. Like the striped bass, white perch, river herring and other anadromous fish also experienced low reproductive success this year.

But biologists “do not view this low value as an imminent problem,” said DNR Fisheries Director Tom O’Connell. “Three consecutive years of poor reproduction would be necessary to trigger mandatory conservation measures.”

According to the 2011 Striped Bass Stock Assessment released by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, striped bass along the Atlantic coast are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.


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