Striped bass, Morone saxatilis (Walbaum), is an anadromous species naturally occurring along the US Atlantic coast, which historically supported valuable commercial and recreational fisheries. In response to a near order-of-magnitude decline in landings, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission enacted a management plan in 1981 protecting fish until they could spawn at least once. By 1989, recruitment increased in natal rivers and regulations were relaxed, permitting limited fisheries by 1990. By 1995, the stock was declared fully recovered. Since the recovery, concern has increased over the health of the stocks. In the 1990s, fish in poor physical condition with dermal lesions became common in Chesapeake Bay. Pathogens of most concern in cultures from fish include the genus Mycobacterium. Coincident with declines in fish health were changes in diets, declines of preferred prey, and reduced growth and condition. Theories were suggested linking declines in condition to reductions in forage base or pathogens. Diets have changed since the 1950s and while many Chesapeake fish are infected with mycobacteria, it is still not known how or if these factors are linked. The highest priorities for research were considered to be: linking numerous local and regional studies to provide a coast-wide perspective; continuation of investigations linking population health to the prey-base; determination of the cause-effect of mycobacteria infections; and formulation of management options.
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US Atlantic coast striped bass: Issues with a recovered population