Water, Earth, Sky

Scott Shenk writes about the environment.

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Maryland striped bass survey lowest on record

On the heels of one of the highest tallies of small or juvenile striped bass in 2011, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ latest survey results for 2012 were a polar opposite.  The agency says its striped bass juvenile index–a measure of the game fish’s spawning success in the Chesapeake Bay–is below the long-term average this year. The fish are gathered in seine sweeps at designated spots in the bay and tributaries. This year’s index was 0.9, the lowest in the 59-year history of the annual survey. The long-term average is 12. The agency says the spawning success of striped bass, also known as rockfish, can vary widely.  DNR Fisheries Director  Tom O’Connell said in a press release:  ”While we expect large variation in striped bass reproduction from year to year and do not view this low value as an imminent problem, we will be carefully monitoring the results of future surveys. Three consecutive years of poor reproduction would be necessary to trigger mandatory conservation measures.” Read the press release here.  A study by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science also found evidence of poor striped bass spawning in Virginia waters of the bay. Fewer fish in a particular year class, biologists say, affects numbers of fish when they grow to adult size in several years.