Harvest restrictions on striped bass Morone saxatilis fisheries in Atlantic coastal states were relaxed in 1990, but consistent, coastwide regulations of the harvest have been difficult to implement because of the mixed-stock nature of the fisheries and the recognized contamination of Hudson River fish by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). We examined PCB concentrations and stock of origin of coastal striped bass to better understand the effects of these two factors on the composition of the harvest. The probability of observing differences in PCB concentration among fish from the Hudson River stock and the 'southern' group (Chesapeake Bay and Roanoke River stocks combined) was investigated with the logit model (a linear model for analysis of categorical data). Although total PCB concentrations were highly variable among fish from the two groups, striped bass classified as Hudson River stock had a significantly greater probability of having PCB concentrations equal to or greater than 2.00 mg/kg than did fish belonging to the southern group for all age- and size-classes examined. There was a significantly greater probability of observing total PCB concentrations equal to or exceeding 2.00 mg/kg in fish that were 5, 6, and 7 or more years old, and this probability increased linearly with age. We observed similar results when we examined the effect of size on total PCB concentration. The minimum-size limit estimated to permit escapement of fish to sustain stock production is 610 mm total length. Unless total PCB concentrations decrease in striped bass, it is likely that many harvestable fish will have concentrations that exceed the tolerance limit set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Additional publication details
Striped bass stocks and concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls