An iconic Chesapeake species continues to rebound

The blue crab may be the first species that comes to mind when you hear ”Chesapeake Bay,” but don’t forget about its most famous finfish, the striped bass, or rockfish. Every year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences conduct juvenile striped bass surveys to track how the species is reproducing.

This year in Maryland, the survey indicated an index of 13.2, which is above the 64-year average of 11.7. The index is an average of the number of juvenile striped bass taken in each sample. Out of 132 samples, researchers collected more than 33,000 fish of 62 species, including 1,741 juvenile striped bass. The upper Chesapeake Bay—the largest spawning ground for the species—was the most productive area. In Virginia, the survey recorded an average of 8.98, which is close to their historic average of 7.77. Spawning success depends on several factors including water temperature, winter snowfall, spring river flow rates and weather conditions.

Striped bass support some of the Chesapeake Bay’s most popular commercial and recreational fisheries and are considered one of the region’s main predators. In the 1970s and 1980s, they suffered a severe decline due to overfishing, water temperature fluctuations in their spawning grounds, low dissolved oxygen in the Bay (otherwise known as the dead zone) and chemical contaminants and runoff from land and sewage treatment practices impacting water quality. Actions taken by both federal and state governments in the 1980s to revive the species have been successful, however ongoing threats still remain to this day.

For the study, samples of juvenile striped bass, those that are under one year of age, are taken at 22 stations within the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia samples at 40 stations within its portion of the Bay, as well as nearby tributaries. The abundance of these young fish serves as an early indicator of future adult fish abundance that is available for recreational and commercial fishermen.

In addition to juvenile striped bass, researchers also count the abundance of other finfish that they collect at their monitoring stations, providing a holistic view of species diversity within the Bay. The survey showed high numbers of white perch in the upper Bay and Nanticoke River, as well as above average shad population.

The survey has been conducted annually since 1954 in Maryland, making it one of the oldest biological studies in the country. It ran in Virginia from 1967-1973 and was reinstated in 1980.

Learn more about striped bass.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at davidhiggins@southernmarylandchronicle.com

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II




© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.