by Alicia Pimental
October 22, 2009
The number of young-of-the-year striped bass – fish that are less than one year old – found in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay in 2009 was up from last year but still a bit below average, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2009 Young-of-the-Year Striped Bass Survey.
The survey found 7.9 young-of-the-year striped bass per haul, which is double that of last year, but still below the long-term average of 11.7.
“These numbers may be slightly below the average, but it’s well within the normal range of expectations,” said DNR Fisheries Service Director Tom O’Connell.
Striped bass, also known as rockfish or stripers, are one of the top predators in the Chesapeake Bay food web. Since they depend on large quantities of prey for survival and are affected by several other environmental factors, it is entirely normal for there to be spikes and dips in the yearly average.
This year’s index of young striped bass, in combination with record-setting classes like 1996, 2001 and 2003, helps to strengthen the once-struggling striped bass population in the Chesapeake Bay.
DNR biologists have monitored the reproductive success of rockfish and other species in Maryland’s portion of the Bay annually since 1954. They survey 22 sites located in the Choptank, Potomac and Nanticoke rivers and the upper Bay, which are the four major spawning areas for striped bass. Biologists check each site monthly from July to September by sweeping the area with a large net and counting all the fish collected in the net.
This year’s survey led to the identification of more than 35,000 fish from 49 different species. Of those, 1,039 were young-of-year striped bass.
For more information about the 2009 Young-of-the-Year Striped Bass Survey, visit DNR’s Striped Bass Survey website.