Text Size: A  A  A

Striped Bass Juvenile Abundance Index

Striped bass juvenile abundance increased in 2013.

April 16, 2014

Striped bass are a sought-after commercial and recreational catch and a key predator in the Chesapeake Bay food web. Andrew Turner from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Versar explains why the fish is so unique. Learn more about striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay Program’s online Field Guide.

Closed Captions.

Produced by Steve Droter
Music: “A Moment of Jazz” by Ancelin


The Chesapeake Bay is the primary spawning and nursery habitat for striped bass on the East Coast. Striped bass support one of the most important commercial and recreational fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay and on the Atlantic seaboard.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) conduct annual juvenile striped bass seine surveys to monitor the relative recruitment success for young-of-the-year (YOY) striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay. Annual abundance indices for both Maryland and Virginia are developed from these surveys to document the annual variation in year-classes and to help evaluate the health of the striped bass stock. YOY abundance estimates can also be an early indicator of future adult fish abundance available for the commercial and recreational fishing industries.

Long-term trend (1982-2013)

Historically, periods of relatively low index values, representing weak year-classes with low recruitment success, are followed by a very high index value, representing a very strong year class with high recruitment success. These strong year-classes are important to sustain the population following less productive years.

During the early 1980s, there were very few strong year-classes in both states, largely attributed to overharvesting. In the late 1980s and through today, stronger year-classes returned after both coastwide and regional fishery regulations were put in place to promote rebuilding the stock.

In Maryland, juvenile abundance peaked in 1996 with an index value of 17.61 and reached its lowest point in 2012 with an index value of 0.49. In Virginia, juvenile abundance peaked in 2011 with an index value of 27.09 and reached its lowest point in 1985 with an index value of 2.41.

Short-term trend (2003-2013)

In the last decade, there have been two particularly strong year-classes, 2003 and 2011, for both Maryland and Virginia. Maryland’s juvenile abundance index peaked at 10.83 in 2003 and Virginia’s index peaked at 27.09 in 2011. Both Maryland and Virginia met their lowest index value in the last decade in 2012.

Change from previous year (2012-2013)

Juvenile abundance increased from 2012-13 in both Maryland and Virginia. 2012 saw some of the lowest juvenile abundances in the last decade. The Maryland juvenile abundance index increased from 0.49 in 2013 to 3.42 in 2013. The Virginia index increased from 2.68 in 2012 to 10.92 in 2013.

Additional Information

MD DNR Juvenile Fish Survey

MD DNR Juvenile Index Glossary

VIMS Juvenile Striped Bass Survey

2013 VIMS Annual Juvenile Survey ReportEstimating Relative Juvenile Abundance of Ecologically Important Finfish in the Virginia Portion of the Chesapeake Bay (2013 Annual Report)

Source of Data

Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Related Indicators

410 Severn Avenue / Suite 112
Annapolis, Maryland 21403
Tel: (800) YOUR-BAY / Fax: (410) 267-5777
Directions to the Bay Program Office
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
©2012 Chesapeake Bay Program | All Rights Reserved