Bay Journal

Topics: Fisheries

MD, VA mulling options to halt decline in striped bass population

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Anglers who live for hooking a feisty striped bass are going to have fewer chances to do it in 2020 — and probably for at least a year or two afterward.

Prompted by a scientific finding that the East Coast’s most prized finfish are in trouble, Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River are all moving to adopt new catch restrictions aimed at stemming the species’ decline.

But many anglers are complaining about the complexity, fairness and even the adequacy of the cutbacks under consideration, which range from a quota tuck of less than 2% for commercial fishermen in Maryland to a 24% reduction in fish removed by recreational anglers in Virginia.

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Young-of-year rockfish surveys have mixed news

Striped bass, whose population has been in decline for a decade and a half, suffered from another poor year of reproduction in Maryland, though the news was better in Virginia. Maryland’s annual young-of-year index was just 3.4,...


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About Fisheries

Acre for acre, the Chesapeake Bay is one of the most productive water bodies on the planet when it comes to fish. Populations of the native striped bass and nonnative blue catfish have risen dramatically in recent decades, while blue crabs appear to be on the road to recovery.

Recent interest in aquaculture has sharply increased commercial production of oysters from the Chesapeake. Nonetheless, problems such as historic overfishing, habitat loss and disease have reduced the abundance of some iconic species such as wild oyster populations, American shad and river herring, American eels and Atlantic sturgeon to near record-low levels. In the headwaters, brook trout have suffered major habitat losses.

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