CWitek

More bad news: Another poor striped bass spawn in Maryland

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Chesapeake Bay 2021 Young-of-Year Survey Results Announced

NEWS PROVIDED BY
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
October 15, 2021, 14:58 GMT
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October 15, 2021

 

Striped Bass Reproduction Below Average, Other Species Strong in Rivers

Photo of man and woman in the water holding scientific instruments

The Department of Natural Resources has monitored the annual reproductive success of striped bass in Maryland’s portion of Chesapeake Bay since 1954. Photo by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced results of this year’s juvenile striped bass survey, which tracks the reproductive success of the iconic fish in the Chesapeake Bay. The 2021 young-of-year index is 3.2 which is slightly higher than last year but still below the long-term average of 11.4.

The coastal striped bass population has decreased in size, but is still capable of strong reproduction with the right environmental conditions. Variable spawning success is a well-known characteristic of the species. The index is slightly higher than 2020 but consecutive below average indices are a concern, and biologists continue to examine factors that might limit spawning success. 

Atlantic Coast states enacted responsible conservation measures in recent years to reduce harvest and protect striped bass during spawning season. Maryland will work with other states in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to develop additional measures to enhance the striped bass population through the Atlantic striped bass fishery management plan.

Graph of comparative historic juveniles striped bass indicesOther noteworthy observations of the survey were increased numbers of Atlantic menhaden in the Choptank River and healthy reproduction of American shad in the Potomac River. The survey also documented reproduction of invasive blue catfish in the upper Chesapeake Bay for the first time.

Twenty-two survey sites are located in four major spawning areas: the Choptank, Nanticoke, and Potomac rivers, and the Upper Chesapeake Bay. Biologists visit each site three times per summer, collecting fish with two sweeps of a 100-foot beach seine net. The index represents the average number of recently hatched striped bass, commonly called rockfish, captured in each sample.

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science conducts a similar survey in the southern portion of Chesapeake Bay.

 


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Posted (edited) · Report post

Brutal.  And the hits keep coming.  More regs are needed to hopefully give the existing population a chance to turn around this mess.

 

With the exception of a few years here and there, that graph does not look promising in the least.

Edited by jps1010

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1 min ago, jps1010 said:

Brutal.  And the hits keep coming.  More regs are needed to hopefully give the existing population a chance to save this mess.

 

With the exception of a few years here and there, that graph does not look promising in the least.

Where it really gets scary is when you compare the 5 years on either side of 2015 to the 5 years on either side of 1970.

 

I would argue that there might have been more bass around on the eve of the stock collapse than there are today.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

If you looked at this as a publicly traded business one would short the crap out of this stock. 

 

There’s really nothing at all good here, nothing. 
 

 

Edited by Drew C.

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28 mins ago, CWitek said:

Where it really gets scary is when you compare the 5 years on either side of 2015 to the 5 years on either side of 1970.

 

I would argue that there might have been more bass around on the eve of the stock collapse than there are today.

Are these abysmal figures a result of poor spawning conditions or a result of less fish spawning due to the shrunken biomass?

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Posted (edited) · Report post

6 mins ago, jps1010 said:

Are these abysmal figures a result of poor spawning conditions or a result of less fish spawning due to the shrunken biomass?

Charles will answer better but it is the conditions. A large spawning stock is not needed in order to have good results. 
 

Edited by Drew C.

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4 mins ago, jps1010 said:

Are these abysmal figures a result of poor spawning conditions or a result of less fish spawning due to the shrunken biomass?

This is the right question. However, this is MD we're talking about. Not a great record of fishery management . 

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40 mins ago, jps1010 said:

Brutal.  And the hits keep coming.  More regs are needed to hopefully give the existing population a chance to turn around this mess.

 

With the exception of a few years here and there, that graph does not look promising in the least.


well the asmfc is rushing to protect the 2015s….

 

that’s sarcasm, they’re not. And to make it worse the current slot will target those very fish. 

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1 hour ago, jps1010 said:

Are these abysmal figures a result of poor spawning conditions or a result of less fish spawning due to the shrunken biomass?

Unfavorable spawning conditions.  There is little or no clear stock/recruitment relationship withn striped bass.  

 

However, there does come the point where, if there is very low recruitment, you lose most of the spawning stock biomass.  That happened in the late '70s, although even then, it was largely the remnant old, large females spawned during the 1960s that led to the recovery of the stock (although the '82s and some later year classes played a role).

 

Right now, the 2001s and 2003s are aging/attritting out of the population.  2004 and 2005s, not big but at least a hair above average year classes, are providing some SSB.  Then you have to jump to 2011s before you have a big year class, and the 2011s never recruited into the SSB in expected numbers.  After that, you have the 2015s, strong average year classes in 2017 and 2018, and nothing else.

 

So if we fail to protect the 2015s, 2017s, and 2018s, and if we don't get another good year class in the next couple of years, we might be looking into the abyss once again, and perhaps reach that point where there is so little SSB left that it will impact recruitment, as happened in the early '80s.

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1 hour ago, RAW said:

What would be the best plan if it were even considered?Just for thought:rav: 

If I had absolute control, I'd go for the Amendmebnt 3 option:  Set a size limit for both the commercial and recreational fisheries, on the coast and in the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware estuary, and Hudson River, that  was high enough to protect 95% of the 2015s from harvest, and continue to increase the size limit to protect the 2015s (or maybe the 2014s, given the big year class in the Hudson) as they grew until the spawning stock biomass was well above the threshold.\

 

I think that the comments of Massachusetts fishery manager Michael Armstrong at the May Management Board meeting really say it all about where we are right now{

 

"...we've got five year classes locked and loaded, with nothing behind 2014 [sic[.  We have the 2015-year class, and 2014 was not bad out of the Hudson.  That is all we've got to rebuild with.  You know we targeted that for 0.2, and we never achieved it, so I've got to assume we didn't hit it this time.  We have to start doing draconian things to get this stock back."

 

Now, five months later, we have six year classes "locked and loaded," and given the attrition of the 2017s and 2018s in the Chesapeake and the 2014s and 2015s on the coast, and the poor 2021 JAI in Maryland, we have less to rebuild with than we had in May.  Halting the attrition of those fish as quickly as possible needs to be the first step.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

For MD, it starts with the river…

 

The Suq is impaired, no one what’s to say it, but it’s not in good shape. Google around on that topic for a bit…

 

One sewage spill/overflow after another, ag runoff the list goes on and on. The river is a mess.
 

These fish need water to spawn in, not some sh1t/pharma/ag runoff toxic cocktail….

Edited by Inshore

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