In October of 2005, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s “Striped Bass Management Board met to announce the latest stock assessment findings. Using a virtual population analysis, they estimated the population of Striped Bass at 65.3 million fish, about 10% over the previous 5 years average. The scientists said the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. The female spawning stock biomass (SSB) is at 55 million pounds, well above the SSB target (38.6 million) and threshold (30.9 mil.) levels. Recruitment is estimated at 12.7 million first year fish, which is close to average since the stock was declared, “recovered” in 1995. This is good news ! There is however a cloud on the horizon, in the reports of a “potentially” lethal Mycobacterium infection occurring in the Chesapeake Bay. Tagging studies there have shown a recent increase (since 1998) of natural mortality. Reduced body fat in the fish studied there also may indicate a lack of food supply.
According to the assessment, the total catch in 2004 was 5.2 million fish, a 33 percent increase since the implementation of Amendment 6 to the interstate management plan. The commercial catch rose slightly to 1.42 million fish. Recreational catch and discards accounted for 72.5 % of the total mortality. The advice for the ASMFC striped bass board is no changes in management are necessary for 2006. The next stock assessment is scheduled for 2007.
As reported in the February 06 issue of Commercial Fisheries News.