Striped Bass Index
The** Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)** announced that 2012’s striped bass juvenile index is the lowest on record. The juvenile index measures spawning success in Chesapeake Bay by documenting annual year-classes of young of the year (YOY) striped bass
“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,” said DNR Fisheries Director Tom O’Connell. “Three consecutive years of poor reproduction would be necessary to trigger mandatory conservation measures.”
This year’s striped bass juvenile index came in at 0.9, the lowest on record. Last year’s survey showed the fourth highest result in the 59-year history of the survey. The long-term average is 12.
Striped bass spawning success can vary dramatically from year to year. Environmental conditions such as flow rates and water temperature influence spawning rates. Other anadromous species, such as white perch, yellow perch, and river herring, also experienced low reproductive success this year. Scientists attribute the drop to weather conditions. A separate survey, conducted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, found poor striped bass spawning success in Virginia’s portion of Chesapeake Bay.
“Generally, warm winters and dry springs are unfavorable conditions for fish that return to freshwater to spawn,” said DNR Striped Bass Survey Project Leader Eric Durell. The survey showed increased reproduction of fish species that spawn in higher salinities or offshore, such as Atlantic croaker and bay anchovies.